The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is the largest system of public lands in the world dedicated to wildlife conservation. There are over 545 national wildlife refuges nationwide, encompassing 95 million acres. As part of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, each refuge is developing 15-year comprehensive conservation plans (CCPs). Each CCP describes a vision and desired future condition for the refuge and outlines goals, objectives, and management strategies for each refuge's habitat and visitor service programs. The CCP process for Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) in Davis, West Virginia was initiated in 2006. This planning process provides a unique opportunity for public input and involvement. Public involvement is an important part of the CCP process. Participation by parties with a stake in the resource (stakeholders) has the potential to increase understanding and support and reduce conflicts. Additionally, meaningful public participation in a decision process may increase trust and provide satisfaction in terms of both process and outcome for management and the public. Public meetings are a common way to obtain input from community members, visitors, and potential visitors. An 'Issues Workbook' is another tool the FWS uses to obtain public input and participation early in the planning process. Sometimes, however, these traditional methods do not capture the full range of perspectives that exist. A stakeholder evaluation is a way to more fully understand community preferences and opinions related to key topics in refuge planning. It can also help refuge staff understand how changes in management affect individuals in terms of their preference for services and experiences. Secondarily, a process such as this can address 'social goals' such as fostering trust in regulating agencies and reducing conflict among stakeholders. As part of the CCP planning effort at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the FWS sponsored a stakeholder evaluation conducted by the Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch of U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center the winter of 2006-2007. The stakeholder evaluation was intended to answer the following questions: 1)Which Refuge management issues are most important, and to whom?, 2)How do opinions about what is most important to stakeholders overlap or conflict?, 3)Why do stakeholders emphasize specific issues, and what values are driving this?, and 4)What potential solutions do stakeholders have for addressing important issues? This information will be used by the Refuge to help guide development of their CCP as they strive to balance stakeholder desires with their charge to manage the unique wetlands and uplands of the Canaan Valley for wildlife conservation.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Stakeholder Evaluation for Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Completion Report