Multilevel Public Decision-Making Processes: Implications for Wildlife Resource Governance
This dissertation explores the implications of the spatial level of wildlife management for stakeholder engagement and the expression of good governance. It pursues this goal through an evaluation of a pilot regional stakeholder engagement effort for deer management, coupled with an exploration of community-based deer management processes at a local level in New York State (NYS). Inquiry with respect to the regional effort draws on 47 semi-structured interviews with participants, facilitators, and conveners of an old model for stakeholder engagement as well as the pilot. Inquiry with respect to the community-based effort involves resident surveys of two communities that have undergone a public decision-making process. The first article proposes a multilevel model for wildlife management, aimed at addressing some of the practical as well as public trust limitations of exclusively local or regional-level stakeholder engagement. Drawing on NYS as an example, it describes how locally-focused processes could address acute deer management impacts in hotspot communities, while a regional process might address broader goals for deer impact management; this article outlines a role for human dimensions research in guiding and providing inquiry in support of this model. The second article outlines the design, implementation, and evaluation of a pilot regional-level stakeholder engagement program for deer management decision making. Despite design elements intended to account for barriers to regional engagement as well as flaws in the old model, the pilot had difficulties achieving objectives. The third article outlines the development of an instrument designed to quantify public perceptions of good governance; results demonstrate a reliable index for eight principles of good governance, but a valid index for only four. The fourth article explores the relationship between resident satisfaction with local-level decision-making processes and perceptions of how well those processes reflected good governance principles, comparing survey results from two communities. Major differences between communities were not found. Good governance perceptions are shown to be a predictor of satisfaction with the deer management programs in both communities. Findings may be useful both to state agencies as well as communities seeking to design and implement stakeholder engagement efforts to guide wildlife-related decision making.
Participation; Governance; Natural resource management; Environmental studies; decision making; scale; stakeholder engagement; Wildlife management
Decker, Daniel Joseph
Forester, John F.; Stedman, Richard Clark; Curtis, Paul D.
Ph. D., Natural Resources
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis