Evaluation of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Opinions of Town and County Leaders, Residents, and the Environmental Community of Endangered Species and Aquatic Conservation in Tazewell County, Virginia
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Local community leaders and conservation educators, when interviewed to explore their opinions on conservation of aquatic resources, placed high value upon the Clinch Riverâ s water quality. They also have sought information regarding water quality and the Clinch River from local organizations and agencies and/or have developed a relationship with them as a result of their long-term presence in the community. The majority of respondents believed that human impacts contribute to species decline, but human impacts may not be the primary contributor to such decline. Respondents indicated that governmental and nongovernmental conservation agencies and organizations can assist localities by providing additional funding opportunities, seminars, and training sessions.
Tazewell County conservation educators focus broadly on water resources of the county. Conservation educators wised that adults and teenagers displayed greater interest in conservation issues and that local governments were involved more actively in conservation. Overwhelmingly, educators believed that forming and fostering partnerships is the most effective way to inform audiences about conservation. Barriers to conservation education faced by educators include lack of funding, audience apathy, and/or audience negativity. Nearly all respondents indicated that balance between conservation and development currently exists or that achieving such a balance should be a goal of the local government.
Survey and interview results were used to develop specific outreach recommendations to generate community support for mussel restoration and aquatic conservation in Tazewell County. Recommendations for the Certus Spill Outreach Plan include: frame mussel outreach messages in a broader aquatic ecosystem context in order to emphasize the human connection to aquatic ecosystems, communicate positive messages about conservation with decision-makers, regularly communicate positive messages about conservation in the local press, and partner with the local school system and agencies that have established positive images in the towns and county.
- Masters Theses