Thursday, June 21, 2007

Using The Gallup Organization Brain to Understand Conservation Opinions in Missouri

The Gallup Organization has useful survey results. An online resource that I use frequently is provided by The Gallup Organization. They have an extensive list of polling results organized in an alphabetical list.

Or, the "Gallup Brain" is a database of questionnaires and opinion results. They describe the Gallup Brain as "a searchable, living record of 70 years of public opinion. Inside, you'll find answers to more than 136,000 questions, and responses from more than 3.5 million people interviewed by The Gallup Poll since 1935." Much of the information in the database requires a paid subscription, although there are a wide variety of reports and updates of current issues that are available without cost.

For example, in an article titled "The People's Priorities: Gallup's Top 10" they list the top 10 priorities that are the "American public's priorities for their elected representatives in Washington -- the men and women sent to the nation's capital to do the people's bidding. The Top 10 Priorities list is based on an analysis of open-ended responses to questions asking Americans to name the top priorities for the government and to name the most important problem facing the nation today, plus a series of additional questions in which Americans rate the priorities of the issues and concerns facing the nation today."

I compare the opinions of the American public with the opinions of Missourians. I find it useful to compare results from surveys conducted in Missouri for the Missouri Department of Conservation with the results reported by Gallup.

I noted in the Gallup list of the top 10 priorities that the environment is listed tenth.

The Gallup commentary describes the American public's opinions about environmental issues as "the environment is not highly likely to be mentioned spontaneously by Americans as a top problem facing the United States at this time, and has a low top-of-mind presence when the public is asked about priorities for government. The environment is seen as more important when Americans respond to a prompted list of issues. Americans willingly say the government is doing too little to protect the environment. Many worry about environmental conditions. A significant majority believes that the quality of the environment is getting worse, not better. While there has been an increase in Americans' general concern about the environment and awareness of global warming, their willingness to compromise economic growth or energy production in the furtherance of environmental quality has not grown."

Further, the commentary concludes that "the environmental policy initiatives Americans would most welcome would appear to be those with the most direct impact: maintaining the safety of drinking water, curbing toxic waste, and improving water and air quality."

Missourians support conservation. In Missouri, there are some similar feelings about the environment as the results from Gallup and yet some differences also. In an earlier post, I showed results for Missourians and their opinions about some conservation issues in Missouri. When asked about several conservation issues, Missourians indicated that they worry the most about drinking water pollution, pollution of rivers, streams, and lakes, air pollution, and the loss of natural habitat for wildlife. And like the Gallup results, conservation tasks may not be exactly at the top of many Missourians priority list, since in a survey conducted in 2000, only a few Missourians could agree on any one thing that the Department of Conservation could do to better serve them.

In a 2003 survey in Missouri, a majority of Missourians, 55 percent, agreed with the statement "I approve of protecting wildlife, unless it hurts the economic livelihood of people who make a living off the land" yet only 22 percent of Missourians agreed with the statement "I approve of filling wetlands if the land can be used to produce more jobs and income."

Regarding forests, 94 percent of Missourians approve of cutting trees to remove diseased or dying trees and 91 percent approve of cutting trees to improve forest health yet only 31 percent of Missourians approve of cutting trees to produce income for landowners.

Overall, 91 percent of Missourians agree that "it is important for outdoor places to be protected even if you don't plan to visit the area."

Clearly the Gallup results seem to match some of the general opinions of Missourians. On the other hand, the support for some issues in the Missouri survey results indicate that Missourians do support environmental issues differently than the general American public. And the overwhelming support in previous elections in Missouri, for conservation, in addition to recent continued support in elections for parks and soils, is a clear sign that Missourians recognize the benefits of conservation tasks.

I'll keep using the Gallup brain and their survey reports to compare with Missouri results as a way to better understand what Missourians are thinking about conservation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

National Overview Report Released for 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

The preliminary findings from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation have been released and the overview report is available here.

A previously released report that examines retention and recruitment trends from previous years and includes data from the recent survey is also available.

From the overview report:

"Results are based on data collected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Census Bureau began by interviewing 85,000 households in April 2006. Samples of 31,500 potential anglers and hunters and 24,300 potential wildlife watchers were selected from those households to be interviewed in detail about their participation and expenditures. The Census Bureau conducted detailed interviews in three different waves, which began in April and September of 2006 and January of 2007. Interviews were completed in April 2007. The survey methodology used in 2006 was similar to that used for the 2001,1996, and 1991 Surveys, so the estimates are comparable."


"In 2006 over 87 million Americans 16 years old and older, 38% of the U.S. population, enjoyed some recreational activity relating to fish and wildlife. Expenditures by this group pursuant to wildlife-related recreation were $120.1 billion. This spending equates to about 1% of gross domestic product, which means that one out of every one hundred dollars of all goods and services produced in the U.S. is associated with wildlife recreation. Almost 34 million people fished and hunted in 2006. They spent $75.4 billion on their activities, including $40.3 billion on equipment, nearly $25 billion on trip expenses, and $10.6 billion on licenses and fees, magazines, membership dues and contributions, and land leasing and ownership. On average, each sportsperson spent $2,225 in 2006."

For wildlife viewing:

"Wildlife watching is a popular outdoor recreation activity. More than 71 million people 16 years old and older (31% of all Americans) fed, photographed, and observed wildlife in 2006 and spent nearly $45 billion on their activities. The Survey uses a strict definition of wildlife watching. Participants must either take a “special interest” in wildlife around their homes or take a trip for the “primary purpose” of wildlife watching. Secondary wildlife-watching activities such as incidentally observing wildlife while pleasure driving are not included."

Information about the survey and a variety of other reports are available here. A press release from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is also available about the recently released results.

Reports for state results will be released as an overall preliminary report later in the summer and state-specific reports with detailed tables will be released beginning in November, 2007.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Human Dimensions is Servant Leadership in Action for Conservation in Missouri

Human dimensions information for conservation is servant leadership in action. I have to recall the past to show how I believe human dimensions information for conservation is a servant leadership in action.

A decade of teaching and learning leadership skills. In 1996, I was asked to participate on the adult staff of a leadership training course for young men. While at that course, although I certainly enjoyed the experience, I would not have predicted that I would continue volunteering my vacation time for similar leadership training courses for every year since that time. This summer I will be part of the adult staff for my 10th course in Missouri. I'll also be involved in my sixth course at the national level, working with youth for an advanced experience at the Philmont Training Center in New Mexico.

Servant leadership is a concept about helping others. The training syllabus that we use has changed since 1996. In the 90s, it focused more on the rote skills of leadership, including communication, planning, conflict resolution, using resources effectively, and other skills. Today, using some of the best parts of current leadership theory and theories that have stood the test of time, the course is slightly different, with a focus more on broader concepts in addition to skills. One concept is that of servant leadership. Being a servant leader involves many things, and Larry Spears writes that the concept is "one that seeks to involve others in decision making, one strongly based in ethical and caring behavior, and one that is attempting to enhance the personal growth of people while improving the caring and quality of our many institutions." At its simplest, servant leadership is about a focus on the needs of others.

The training syllabus describes the concept as: "The concept of servant leadership encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization's values and integrity. Servant leadership emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power."

This idea of including others in decision making, using an approach that is both ethical and respectful of others point-of-view, is what using human dimensions and public involvement in conservation decision-making is all about.

Human dimensions information is used to help others. Human dimensions helps resource mangers make informed decisions about fish, forest, and wildlife conservation. In Missouri, human dimensions efforts are some of the ways citizen opinions are included in conservation decisions. Human dimensions information helps managers and decision-makers provide conservation programs and services that meet the needs and expectations of Missourians. That is why I believe that human dimensions is servant leadership in action.

"What We Believe" statements of the Missouri Department of Conservation guide actions. Using human dimensions information helps me and the staff of the Missouri Department of Conservation demonstrate our "What We Believe" statements. The second statement is "All citizens are important; we value their trust and their point of view" and the third is "Missourians are our partners to achieve conservation success." The last statement includes: "Our decisions and behavior will be based on fairness, objectivity and the best scientific information."

Excellent public service is what we will provide. I believe that using human dimensions information for conservation decision-making helps achieve the first "What We Believe" statement "Excellent public service is what we will provide." These words in the "What We Believe" statements are very similar to the words I use each summer when teaching about the concept of servant leadership. Using human dimensions information and public involvement to meet the needs and expectations of Missourians for fish, forest, and wildlife in Missouri looks exactly like servant leadership to me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Human Dimensions Information for Fish, Forest, and Wildlife Conservation in Missouri

Human dimensions information is used everyday for conservation decisions. As I drove home Friday evening, thinking about the events of the week, I thought about how several of the tasks I participated in during the week demonstrate how human dimensions information and the distribution of that information are a part of the decisions that are made everyday about conservation.

1. Thirty years of human dimensions work. I was interviewed by Cindi Jacobson about the Missouri Department of Conservation's approach to use human dimensions information in fish, forest, and wildlife management efforts. Ms Jacobson is an Alaska Department of Fish and Game employee who is conducting Ph.D. research through the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University. She was in Missouri interviewing individuals at the Department of Conservation. She is also interviewing individuals in Arkansas, Maine, and New Mexico. I provided comments to her about the Department's nearly 30 years of human dimensions research and public involvement efforts. The Department of Conservation employed its first full-time social researcher in 1978.

2. Public involvement is used to find solutions and provide guidance. I reviewed materials to help in a citizen forum next week to collect solutions about a forest management issue. The Department of Conservation frequently uses public meetings, forums, and focus groups to enable citizens to provide direction for conservation issues. Examples of comments from several public forums conducted by the Department are available online.

3. Using technology to increase efficiency and reduce process time and costs. I participated in a meeting with Department staff to improve our use of SharePoint, a software collaboration tool, to make a wide variety of information easier to find, access, and use, including human dimensions and policy information.

4. Managing electronic files and information. I was interviewed by an outside consultant for a statewide effort to examine the needs of Missouri government agencies for managing and retrieving electronic files and documents. Managing the increasing number of electronic files is an important issue. From my perspective, improving the ability to find and access human dimensions reports, files, and data is very important both for my work and to increase the use of human dimensions information by Department staff, other agencies, and Missourians. Improving access to human dimensions information will make it easier for that information to be used to guide and provide accountability for conservation decisions.

5. Staying in touch with conservation opinions, satisfaction, and participation. I edited questions for a statewide survey about conservation opinions, participation, and satisfaction. This particular survey of Missourians was first conducted by the Department of Conservation in 1994 and has been repeated at regular intervals. It is an important effort to understand how Missourians feel about conservation issues.

Human dimensions information improves accountability. One of the nine goal categories of the Missouri Department of Conservation's strategic plan, The Next Generation of Conservation, is "Accounting for Department Operations." The goal statement is: "The Conservation Department will operate effectively with accountability for public funds and respect for Missouri citizens." Human dimensions information helps me and other Department staff make informed decisions. Although information can certainly increase our understanding of the complexity of issues and increase our awareness of the far-reaching consequences of decisions, sometimes information can make decisions more difficult or uncertain rather than easier. Even if a decision is difficult or the outcome uncertain, however, using information almost always makes a decision more accountable.

The desired results of the goal Accounting for Department Operations include:
Missouri citizens providing frequent input into Conservation Department decisions and programs.

Conservation efforts led by a highly trained, diverse, technologically skilled and professional staff.

Fair and ethical business methods that enable Missourians to see how public funds are spent on conservation priorities.

I think that all five of the examples I thought about from the past week help achieve these desired results.

The entire document of The Next Generation of Conservation is available online. Individual sections are also on the Department of Conservation's Web pages. A special issue of the Missouri Conservationist magazine, in September 2006, included information and other articles related to The Next Generation of Conservation.

The most recent annual reports from the Department of Conservation are also available online and a two-page summary of the 2006 annual report is in the January issue of the Missouri Conservationist magazine.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Participation in Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation in Missouri

Every five years. The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation has been conducted about every five years since 1955. The survey is conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Single best source. The survey is the single best source of information about participation and spending patterns related to fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching. There is no other nationwide survey conducted in a similar statistically valid way. There is no better source of information. Results in recent surveys have been reported for each state. More information about the survey and how it is conducted is available here.

No statistical change between 1991 and 2001 for Missouri. The report for Missouri from the National Survey, available here, indicates there was not a statistically significant change in fishing, hunting, or wildlife-viewing participation away from home between 1991 and 2001 in Missouri. You can see in the chart here that there was a slight numerical decline in the estimates of participation for all but viewing around the home, which did have a statistically significant decline.

New data available soon from 2006. Preliminary results from the 2006 survey are being released now and the final reports will be available soon. I am very interested in seeing the results, especially to compare with previous years.

Why the survey is better than license sales to understand participation. In Missouri, a variety of fishing and hunting participation does not require a permit. For example, individuals under the age of 16 and those 65 and older do not need a permit for most fishing and hunting opportunities. Landowners of parcels five acres and larger do not need a permit for many fishing and hunting activities on their own property, except for needing transportation tags for deer and turkey and for appropriate waterfowl permits. More information about fishing and hunting licenses in Missouri is available here and a library of information about who needs a permit and who is exempted is available here. License sales are certainly useful to monitor trends, but don't show the entire range of participation.

The National Survey uses a statistically valid random sample of Missourians to estimate the levels of participation and expenditures for fishing, hunting, and wildlife-related recreation. The survey provides the best overall estimate of fishing and hunting available in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation does conduct its own surveys and studies of permit numbers to gain additional information that is not collected in the National Survey.

In general, for the activities of fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching that do have results reported in the National Survey, the survey numbers provide the best picture of participation.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Missourians Who Worry "A Fair Amount" and "A Great Deal" About Selected Conservation Issues

When asked about a variety of conservation issues, the pollution of drinking water had the highest level of personal worry by Missourians when the responses of "a fair amount" and "a great deal" are added together.

This "top two" approach provides an indication of the more strongly held opinions of Missourians about the selected conservation issues in this question.

Almost 80 percent or more of Missourians worry about drinking water pollution, pollution of rivers, streams, and lakes, and air pollution. A clear majority of Missourians worry about the loss of natural habitat for wildlife and not enough regulation for housing, business, or shopping developments. About one-half of Missourians worry about urban sprawl and a significant number of Missourians worry about channelized or altered streams.

The strongest held opinions, those that worry "a great deal," increase as the overall level of worry increases (the green shaded areas on the right in the chart) for the conservation issues in the list. For each issue, the number of Missourians that worry "a fair amount" (the areas shaded yellow on the left) is about the same.

In this chart, the overall ranking stays the same compared to the rankings obtained if only the levels of "a great deal" are compared in a chart or if the levels of all Missourians who had any inclination to worry about the issues are compared. Although I would be comfortable reporting any of the three ranking charts, the "top two" approach in the chart here provides a very clear perspective about what a majority of Missourians feel about the selected conservation issues.

Even a quick inspection of the chart indicates that the top four issues have the highest levels of worry by Missourians, including the issues of drinking water pollution, pollution of rivers, streams, and lakes, air pollution, and the loss of natural habitat for wildlife.

These results for how Missourians personally worry about conservation issues are from a conservation opinion survey conducted for the Missouri Department of Conservation by the University of Missouri in 2003. The survey was conducted by mail and a statistically valid random sample of Missouri adults from every Zip Code in Missouri were asked to provide their opinions. A total of 6,352 Missourians provided completed survey forms.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Levels of Worry by Missourians for Selected Conservation Issues

Yesterday I provided a link to a report from the Brookings Institute about changes in population and where people live in Missouri and showed a chart using results from a conservation opinion survey about how Missourians worry about several conservation issues. In the chart, I included an overall total for the responses of "only a little," "a fair amount," and "a great deal."

It is often useful in survey analysis to compare the different responses to a question and look beyond the overall totals.

In the chart here, I have broken out the responses for each issue. Note in the chart that as the overall total level of worry for a specific issue increases, the number of Missourians who worried "only a little" decreases (the red shaded areas on the left) and the number that worry "a fair amount" stays about the same (the yellow shaded areas in the middle). It is the number of Missourians who worry "a great deal" that steadily increases as the overall level of worry increases (the green shaded areas on the right).

This suggests increasing awareness and concern for the conservation issues that have the highest levels of worry. Something about the issue itself has a stronger emotional meaning or seems more important. It could be that the issues that have the highest level of worry seem closer, or more personally "real" to Missourians.

Tomorrow, I'll look at just the top two responses for each conservation issue in the question. I want to see how the issues compare using the strongest levels of concern, including the responses of "a fair amount" and "a great deal," to see if this "top two" approach provides a different perspective about the level of importance of these issues to Missourians.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Missourians Personally Worry About Conservation Issues

When asked about a variety of conservation issues, the pollution of drinking water had the highest level of personal worry by Missourians.

Almost all Missourians worry about drinking water pollution, pollution of rivers, streams, and lakes, air pollution, and the loss of natural habitat for wildlife. A clear majority of Missourians also worry about not enough regulation for housing, business, or shopping developments, urban sprawl, and channelized or altered streams.

Many of these kinds of conservation issues were also discussed in a report published by the Brookings Institute in December, 2002 entitled Growth in the Heartland: Challenges and Opportunities for Missouri. The executive summary of that report is available here.

The Brookings Institute report describes Missouri as:

"Situated in the heartland, Missouri reflects the full range of American reality. The state is highly urban yet deeply rural. It contains two bustling metropolises, numerous fast growing suburbs, and dozens of typically American small towns. Elsewhere lie tranquil swaths of open country where farmers still rise before dawn and the view consists mainly of rich cropland, trees, and sky. Missouri sums up the best of the nation, in short."

The Brookings Report executive summary closes with:

"In the end: Citizens and localities have choices about how their communities grow, and can meaningfully shape their communities' futures for the better. Hopefully Growth in the Heartland will help Missourians make the best possible choices to ensure their state grows in a fiscally responsible and high-quality manner for generations to come."

For me, the most important message from the Brookings report is that Missourians are moving away from the truly urban and truly rural areas. The resulting increase of suburban areas will continue to have impacts on a variety of conservation issues. It is obvious that many Missourians personally worry about those conservation issues.

The results of how Missourians personally worry about conservation issues are from a conservation opinion survey conducted for the Missouri Department of Conservation by the University of Missouri in 2003. The survey was conducted by mail and a statistically valid random sample of Missouri adults from every Zip Code in Missouri were asked to provide their opinions. A total of 6,352 Missourians provided completed survey forms. The results reported here include the responses of "a little," "a fair amount," and "a great deal."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Missourians Watch Programs on TV About the Outdoors

In a survey where 6,352 Missourians responded, 80 percent of the individuals indicated that they had participated in the last 12 months in watching programs on TV about the outdoors. And the number was slightly higher for households, at 82 percent.

Missourians living in the outstate areas were slightly more likely to watch programs about the outdoors than those living in Missouri's largest urban areas. Men were more likely to watch, at 86 percent, than women, at 74 percent.

Those individuals who identified themselves as hunters, anglers, and environmentalists, and those who were more familiar with the Missouri Department of Conservation, were much more likely to watch programs about the outdoors.

If the household had children in the home, they were about the same in the level of watching as those without children, and age categories were about the same, except for those over 70 who were less likely to watch compared to those of age 21 to 69 years.

And the participation in outdoor TV program watching was much higher for those with a high level of outdoor activity (93 percent) compared to the level of participation in TV watching for those with a low level of outdoor activity (61 percent).

Thinking about these numbers, the following observations and conclusions from a study about national park visits does not seem to fit with the Missouri data.

John Whitehead, an economist at Appalachian State University, writes in his blog on environmental economics:

"Is love of nature in the US becoming love of electronic media? 16-year downtrend in national park visits explained by watching movies, playing video games, internet use, and oil prices."

He was referring to a recent abstract of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management:

"After 50 years of steady increase, per capita visits to US national parks have declined since 1988. This decline, coincident with the rise in electronic entertainment media, may represent a shift in recreation choices with broader implications for the value placed on biodiversity conservation and environmentally responsible behavior. We compared the decline in per capita visits with a set of indicators representing alternate recreation choices and constraints. The Spearman correlation analyses found this decline in NPV to be significantly negatively correlated with several electronic entertainment indicators... Multiple linear regression of four of the entertainment media variables as well as oil prices explains 97.5% of this recent decline... We may be seeing evidence of a fundamental shift away from people's appreciation of nature (biophilia, Wilson 1984) to ‘videophilia,’ which we here define as “the new human tendency to focus on sedentary activities involving electronic media.” Such a shift would not bode well for the future of biodiversity conservation."

From the Missouri survey, when asked to choose, 56 percent of Missourians selected outdoor activities, like hiking, camping, birdwatching, fishing, or hunting, as the activities they enjoy most, compared to reading or watching TV (34 percent) and structured sports (9 percent) like tennis, softball, or bowling.

I'll want to read the article more closely to see how the study was conducted and how those conclusions might relate to Missouri.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Conservation Professionals, Careers, and Human Dimensions

I've given many talks to young people and asked them what they'd like to do for a career.

Regardless of their answer, I tell them there is a place for them in conservation and resource management. Want to be a pilot? Forestry and wildlife management tasks need good pilots. Like to produce films and design interactive computer games? Conservation education needs outstanding videographers and computer experts. Like to work with money, figures, and design a budget? Conservation success depends upon accountable and accurate business practices.

There is a place in conservation for almost every area of expertise that I can think about. Experts in the traditional fields of fish, forest, and wildlife management have long recognized that the success of biologists and managers requires a wide variety of skills. This view continues to expand. I have what would be considered two traditional degrees in wildlife management and one in food animal production. While in school I became very interested in the people and policy aspects of resource management and gained some experience working in that area. I have used both the traditional education and my policy research experiences for almost 20 years in the area of human dimensions of resource management to help other more "traditional" resource managers make decisions.

Michael Hutchins, the Executive Director/CEO of The Wildlife Society, writes in the Spring, 2007, issue of The Wildlifer newsletter (available here):

"So, who are these wildlife professionals? A more traditional view would have us include only those individuals who have a degree in wildlife biology, ecology or management and who are working in a job in which they: (1) conduct scientific studies of wildlife biology or ecology; or (2) actively monitor and manage wildlife populations and/or their habitats."


"There are many professionals who play significant roles in wildlife management and conservation today that do not fit into this traditional mold. Among the most significant of these non-traditionalists are those who work on the human dimensions of wildlife management and conservation. Such individuals may have training in psychology, sociology, anthropology or economics. They may study human attitudes toward wildlife or wildlife management and utilization, cultural traditions that impact wildlife, or economic factors that influence our ability to sustain wildlife populations over the long-term. Since most of the challenges facing wildlife managers and conservationists today are anthropogenic in origin, it is critical that we understand the many complex issues that lie at the human-wildlife interface. Human dimensions will undoubtedly play a critical role in our ability to manage and conserve wildlife now and into the future."

I'm pleased to see this super-sized view of how many areas of expertise are needed to achieve conservation success. In the article there is discussion about the need for other types of expertise in addition to human dimensions.

More information about education programs in wildlife management is available here, and information about The American Fisheries Society is available here. Information for students from the Society of American Foresters is available here and information about the Soil and Water Conservation Society is available here.

Career and education information about human dimensions is in many places online. Purdue University has information here, there is a human dimensions research unit at Cornell University, available here, and information about the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri is available here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why Human Dimensions Information is Important for a Conservation Legacy

When I was at Purdue University in the late 1980s, Durward Allen was still alive and had an office in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Durward Allen spent his career in wildlife management and left his own legacy of conservation through his efforts on Isle Royale in Lake Superior to begin a study of wolves and moose. He wrote many books and articles about conservation. Dr. Allen signed my copy of his book Our Wildlife Legacy and left me a legacy of memories and thought-provoking words. He wrote in the 1962 revised edition of Our Wildlife Legacy:

"If it all reduces to any dependable theme, it probably is this: that there is a harmony in the natural world which makes the right thing easy and the wrong thing chaos; that the right thing is revealed in being right, not just for now and for us, but for the earth and all those who will inherit it; that there are natural principles, if we can discover them, to guide everything men may wish to do with land and water and the life they support."


"What we have now is largely a matter of chance; but what we are to have cannot be left to chance. It calls for understanding and design."

He suggests:

"To boil it all down, progress in wildlife conservation will require the best research program that can be organized. It is essential, and we cannot afford the time and money wasted in second-rate performance. The era of guesswork management is past."

These words were relevant in 1962. Similar words from Aldo Leopold date to the 1930s, and John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt had similar statements at the turn of the century. Their words are still relevant today.

Today, most businesses rely on a variety of approaches to manage outcomes based on facts; a successful business can rarely afford to waste time and money on second-rate performance. They don't guess about decisions, they aspire to management by fact.

Management by fact for conservation includes the human dimensions of resource management. I believe that understanding more about the human dimensions of fish, forest, and wildlife management is equally important today as it was in 1900, 1933, and 1962. The forward thinking of Roosevelt, Leopold, and Allen included an understanding of the importance of biological, sociological, and economic research to effective resource management. In their own words, they advocated management by fact.

Using the human dimensions of conservation, or in other words, understanding the demands, opinions, participation, and satisfaction of Missourians for fish, forest, and wildlife management, is the way that the Missouri Department of Conservation is using facts to focus on results and to establish a conservation legacy for future Missourians.

More information about the history of conservation in the United States is available in a variety of books and online sources. A timeline of conservation related events from 1850 to 1920 compiled by the Library of Congress is available here.

A timeline of conservation policy successes from 1900 to today is available from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies here.

The Wildlife Society's position statement about the North American model of wildlife conservation is available here.

Information about the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, approved by Congress in 1937, is available here and information about the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act from 1950 is available here.

Additional information about the Federal Assistance Program that assists states in management efforts for fish and wildlife resources is available here. One benefit for states from Federal Aid assistance is the human dimensions information available from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation that is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Finding Human Dimensions Information About Conservation in Missouri with American Factfinder

Human dimensions information about conservation, or even demographic information of any kind, used to be easy to find but was often difficult to obtain. There were relatively few books or sources and they were difficult to locate in a nearby library or expensive to purchase.

Now, it seems that because so much information is available online, specific information is harder to find, but easier to obtain. There are so many online sources for demographic information that narrowing a search to find what is needed can be difficult. Once the information is identified, it is often incredibly easier to obtain, usually requiring only a mouse click to download the file or to design custom analysis.

The most important source of information about people in Missouri or the United States, and the first place to look, is the U.S. Census Bureau and their American Factfinder Web pages available here.

For example, type in "Missouri" in the state entry box for "Get a fact sheet for your community..." and press "GO" which will yield a list of population characteristics with all sorts of variables of interest. Down the page is a listing of housing units and characteristics, as available here. If you are interested, the estimate for total housing units in Missouri for 2005 was 2,592,809.

Try entering your own community and look at the characteristics available.

Or you can view a narrative with graphs about the how the population of Missouri is distributed as available here. In the text it is stated that in 2005 there were 2.3 million households in Missouri. The average household size was 2.5 people.

You can use the American Factfinder to obtain very focused and specific information. Overall, I think it's relatively easy to use and the availability of information is incredible. Obtaining the information is very easy. And don't be overwhelmed at the amount of information. Finding what you want is usually a matter of persistence and logical searching.

Finding and obtaining information at the American Factfinder is probably easier than my new puppy's experience at selecting a plastic egg out of a basket. He was just not sure which egg to chew on first.