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Title:Wildlife as a Priority in Park Development: A Study of Illinois Park Professionals
Author(s):Hicks, Jonathan R.
Advisor(s):Stewart, William P.
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
decision making
public value
Abstract:The purpose of this thesis is to consider the factors that impact decision making in city park settings, with specific emphasis given to wildlife. Additionally, professional bias was considered as a possible response determinant. Studies connecting perceptions of wildlife and Illinois park managers have been rare or nonexistent, but offer the potential for the improvement of management strategies and recreational opportunities. Data was collected using mixed methods. City recreation practitioners statewide were invited to complete a self-administered questionnaire considering wildlife as a decision-making factor in land acquisition or restoration decisions. A small follow-up sample of park managers was interviewed via telephone for further explanation of their response. Analysis of responses from questionnaires and interviews suggested that wildlife habitat is a factor in land use decision making, but is not considered one of the highest importance. Respondents identified that nuisance wildlife, access to wildlife, and public value of wildlife were also factors in decision making. Factors associated with a high-ranking of the importance of wildlife were agencies with a high number of natural area acres, a high number of overall park acreage, personnel devoted to natural area management, the presence of hiking trails, and cities with a large population. Professional bias of recreation managers was suggested via anecdotal interview data, but could not be empirically connected with wildlife-related decision-making processes, as no managers identified themselves as having completed formal wildlife-related training. As a result, management implications include separate training for both practitioners and public. This study broadens the understanding of wildlife management in city park settings, and reaffirms that further understanding of public and pracitioner values of wildlife will lead to improved land use decisions and recreationally valuable experiences.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Jonathan R. Hicks
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2

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