Date of Award

8-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Kevin J. Boyle

Second Committee Member

Jonathan D. Rubin

Third Committee Member

Jeffery S. Kahl

Abstract

There are various ways to approach policy planning. This thesis consists of two Maine natural resource issue case studies illustrating different approaches to policy analysis. The first, a case study of arsenic contamination, is an example of a study that assembles information and provides that information to the public to influence public behavior. The second, a case study of wildlife management, is an example of a study that surveys the public to collect information on the public's opinions and attitudes to influence agency behavior towards the public. Arsenic in drinking water in Maine is a public health concern. There may be as many as 30,000 private wells in Maine with arsenic levels in excess of the current federal standard, 0.01 mg/L. The arsenic study was undertaken to help health officials and homeowners assess the relative costs associated with treatment alternatives for private well water with elevated levels of arsenic. Annual costs of reverse osmosis, activated alumina, bottled water, rented and purchased water coolers were compared. Costs were calculated based on households from one to four residents. The least expensive treatment option for a single-person household is to purchase one-gallon jugs of bottled water. For households larger than one person the least expensive treatment option consistently is to install a reverse osmosis point of use system. The second least cost option for a single person household is to purchase 2.5-gallon jugs of bottled water. For households larger than one person the second-best option is to install a point of use activated alumina system. Point of entry systems and water coolers were not cost effective. Before taking specific actions to mitigate exposure households should carefully investigate specific features of the systems they are considering and the exact cost to their household. In the second study, perceptions of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) were explored. As part of the agency's goals to provide high quality recreational opportunities, improve customer satisfaction, education and awareness of wildlife issues, and maintain a high level of responsiveness to customer's needs, MDIF&W elicited public opinion on how they were doing overall and on specific management issues. Wildlife managers are finding that agencies using public opinion to form policy decisions often enjoy high public support. Here we investigate the public's knowledge and opinions regarding wildlife management in Maine. We found that respondent knowledge of who actively manages wildlife in Maine exceeds that of Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama, states where similar studies had been conducted. High agency recognition does not necessarily translate into equally high ratings of satisfaction with agency management activities. In addition, more than 25% of respondents answered "don't know" to factual questions, yet most were willing to give opinions oh how management should be conducted. Low satisfaction ratings and more than 25% respondents answering "don't know" emphasizes the need for increased public education regarding management efforts.

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