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Examining the Relationship between Stakeholders and Everglades National Park
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Understanding more about relationships between stakeholders and federal agencies are essential for managing protected areas as well as for policy makers, residents, and community leaders. These relationships have gained importance in natural resource decision-making because stakeholders’ level of interest increases over time, and they want to be more involved. Knowing how managers and stakeholders work together is also necessary to capture the meanings and feelings that local communities and various groups might have about a park and its ecosystem. To explore relationships between stakeholders and national parks, Everglades National Park (EVER) was selected as a study site for several reasons: proximity to urban areas, rich biological diversity, largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S., International Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Site, and its prominence as a tourist destination for the region. The purpose of this study was to examine how local groups are engaged with EVER and how these relationships have changed over time. The objectives of the study were: 1) to understand stakeholders’ perspectives about EVER; 2) to investigate the meaning EVER has for stakeholders; and 3) to learn more about their roles and involvement with EVER. This study conducted a series of interviews with stakeholders interacting with EVER including neighborhood groups, representatives from gateway communities and conservation organizations. A snowball sample was used to obtain a list of key informants and select people for interviews. This qualitative study analyzed data that were generated from three methods: audio recordings, transcripts, and field notes. Forty-one semi-structured interviews were conducted ranging in duration from 15-60 minutes. An analysis of interview data generated three research themes: 1) Attachment to place (preservation of biodiversity, recreation, home, and financial attachment), 2) Threats to the natural environment (loss of native species, urban development, a shortage and contamination of water, hurricanes, climate change, and increased recreation use), and 3) Collaboration (volunteering and advocacy, tourism development, and education and sharing information). Data checks were conducted for trustworthiness. The results of this study add to the literature by understanding more about stakeholders, national parks and their relationships. Theoretically, this research helps to recognize the different ways that stakeholders have worked with EVER in the past, present, and how they may be involved with them in the future. Practically, by learning more about the importance of EVER for stakeholders, the results provide useable knowledge in designing strategies that can help develop plans for natural resource decision-making in and around the park and surrounding communities. The study was limited by the use of the snowball sampling procedure and its focus on only one national park. Future research should include a broader range of stakeholders and expand the number/type of national park units.
Choe, Yunseon (2016). Examining the Relationship between Stakeholders and Everglades National Park. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from