Public acceptability of development in the Northern Forest of Vermont, USA – the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographic characteristics

PLoS ONE
By: , and 

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Abstract

Increasing development such as roads and houses will alter future landscapes and result in biological, social, and economic trade-offs. Managing development requires information on the public’s acceptability of development and understanding which factors shape acceptability. In this study, we examined three questions: 1) What is the public’s acceptability of development? 2) Is acceptability of development influenced by wildlife information? and 3) Is the maximum amount of acceptable development influenced by views about wildlife, involvement in outdoor recreation, and demographic factors? We conducted a visual-preference survey of 9,000 households in Vermont, USA that asked about acceptable levels of development, acceptability of wildlife, involvement in recreation, and individual and town demographics. The survey response rate was 44%. Maximum acceptable condition (MAC) for development was 41 houses/km2 and not meaningfully influenced by broader consequences of development on seven common wildlife species. MAC was influenced by views on individual species, including bear and coyote, but not by other species such as deer, fox, and bobcat. Respondents with a positive attitude toward bear favored less development, whereas the opposite relationship existed for coyote. Similarly, MAC was negatively influenced by involvement in birding and hunting, but not by other common recreational activities. Among demographic factors, respondents that were younger and not born in Vermont were more accepting of development. Population density also positively influenced development acceptability. Results provide measures of the public’s acceptability of development that can help guide decision-making about development, wildlife, and recreation management.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Public acceptability of development in the Northern Forest of Vermont, USA – the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographic characteristics
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0203515
Volume 13
Issue 12
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher PLoS One
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description e0203515
Country United States
State Vermont