Research: Understanding individual decisions to protect, restore, and maintain stream health
- Late 2008/early 2009: Conducted interviews with 20 local experts to inform initial expert model of citizen decision making as it relates to streams and local watersheds.
The expert model provides a comprehensive account of what parameters local experts believe influence the individual decision-making process for people living in these communities and more specifically, those owning land along streams.
- It is necessary for citizens to understand stream and watershed ecology as well as threats and impacts associated with degraded streams in order to make informed choices (Top left corner, in the Ecosystem Knowledge section)
- It is important for scientific research to inform citizen knowledge.
- Different actors influence citizen decisions through water law and policy, as well as outreach and education related to the prevention, maintenance, and restoration of streams. (Bottom left corner, Policy and Outreach section)
- The degree to which people seek out and process information in their decisions to act (or not act) is influenced by a variety of factors including individual differences (e.g., differing values), socio-cultural drivers (e.g., social norms), and economic drivers (e.g. access to resources) (Top right corner, Individual and Societal Influences section)
- Certain parameters promote the internalization of a threat and potential action by an individual (e.g., awareness), and that there are barriers that may prevent a threat from being recognized (i.e., pre-internalization barriers) or acted upon (i.e., post-internalization barriers). (Bottom right corner, in the Perceived Risk and Decision Making)
The actions available to an individual who decides to take action include stream restoration techniques, land management practices, water filtration, monitoring and prevention, and riparian restoration.
- Desired outcomes (e.g., improved watershed and stream health) are identified in this category, as well as factors that ultimately lead to sustainable action and a greater likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes.
- Experts indicated:
The expert model became the comparative framework for developing the target audience mental model interviews (see Education and Extension), and assessing the importance of various influences on target audience decision making.
- Use the same structure as the expert model, but highlight which aspects of the model were most frequently mentioned by the target audience groups.
- The student, parent, and streamside landowner mental models highlight major gaps in knowledge, as well as crucial influences on decision making that could be addressed through outreach and communication.