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Community-based conservation planning: the case of the endangered Houston toad in Bastrop County, Texas
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One of the greatest challenges facing natural resource policy makers is controversy surrounding management of private lands for public goods. Such controversies are perhaps most apparent in the management of federally endangered species that inhabit private lands. An increasingly utilized approach for addressing these private lands challenges is community-based conservation planning (CBCP)-a process that involves stakeholders from the community in the decision making process. To better inform such processes, I analyzed the attitudes and perceptions of stakeholders involved in a CBCP effort for the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) in Bastrop County, Texas. I collected data using participant observation at public meetings and informant directed interviews with project participants. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed by identifying emergent themes in participants' dialogue. I also delineated stakeholder relations and analyzed project facilitation based on guidelines from the literature. The most prevalent theme in stakeholder discourse was conflict, which was further fueled by a lack of communication among parties, increased participant uncertainty regarding science and CBCP, and reduced information exchange among participants and the decision authority. Additionally, lack of participant experience in such processes intensified conflict. Participants not engaged in conflict communicated more effectively with the decision authority, and had experience both working with federal agencies and making decisions when faced with inadequate information and uncertainty. All participants acknowledged they learned during this process, but this was insufficient to move them past conflict with the decision authority and other group members. Pre-defined stakeholder categories did not explain or predict relationships among group members. Rather, stakeholder representatives related to one another based on their needs for involvement, previous experiences, and conflict status. Lastly, ineffective facilitation decreased communication and information exchange and intensified conflict among parties. This case study should benefit those working with CBCP throughout the United States. Toward this goal, I provided CBCP guidelines relevant to Bastrop County CBCP, and demonstrated the importance of skilled facilitation and inclusion of the decision authority. As human/wildlife land use conflicts expand, lessons learned during this process should enable conservationists and regulatory agencies to better incorporate community interests into conservation planning processes.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 115-123).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Allison, Stacey Anne (2002). Community-based conservation planning: the case of the endangered Houston toad in Bastrop County, Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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