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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of the management system for the Pitt Wildlife Management Area McGrenere, Michael Francis

Abstract

The differing objectives of the public in managing and using both wildlife habitat and the wildlife resource create problems for wildlife managers who must find socially acceptable solutions. How should the resource be allocated among alternative uses such as hunting and observation? Should particular species be given priority in the management of the wildlife resource and, if so, which ones? What tradeoffs should be made to arrive at solutions which appropriately reflect the public's legitimate interest and concern with the management of this resource? The purpose of this study is to evaluate the performance of the management system established as a means of arriving at socially acceptable solutions in the management of wildlife at the Pitt Wildlife Management Area (PWMA). The study focuses on the effectiveness of the PWMA Advisory Committee as a forum for incorporating public input into policy and management decisions at the PWMA. While the "Proposed Wetlands Policy" for the Provincial Government calls for the establishment of public advisory committees, the PWMA Advisory Committee is the first public advisory committee established in B.C. for the purpose of advising the F&WB on issues relating to wildlife management in a specific area. Normative criteria have been derived for evaluating the performance of an ideal process for wildlife management decision-making. These criteria follow logically from social values inherent in a liberal democratic system. A basic assumption behind these criteria is that socially acceptable solutions can be elicited through a process which reflects social values. The normative criteria used for evaluating the decision-making process are: (1) all interests affected by decisions should be represented; (2) decisions should be based on adequate information; (3) interaction should take place among participants; (4) participants' efforts should be of value; and (5) the system should be efficient. This study documents the planning process for four issues pertaining to the PWMA - the formation of a management plan, the allocation of a Sandhill Crane reserve, the waterfowl hunting policy, and the formation of a recreation plan. The PWMA Advisory Committee has opened up the wildlife management decision process a great deal. However, the results of the evaluation indicate a number of weaknesses in the process. Representation of Legitimate Interests; Four categories of interests affected by the management of the PWMA were identified: those who use the PWMA, those who do not regularly use the area but are interested in enhancing wildlife populations in the area, those who don't use the area but are interested in preserving the diversity of wildlife species, and those affected by the external effects of managing the area. The evaluation revealed that a good cross-section of interests is represented on the committee except for those interested in certain recreational uses of the area. Five stages of a typical resource allocation process include issue formulation, plan conceptualization, evaluation, decision-making, and implementation. In order for affected interests to be adequately represented, they must be able to participate at all stages of the process. This has not been the case with the Advisory Committee. Because of the general lack of a systematic process, none of the interests have been well represented in the planning process for all issues. Adequacy of Information: Alternative planning and management strategies were not generated for most issues. In fact, for the most controversial issue (pertaining to the hunting regime), no alternatives were formally discussed for either of the two changes which were made. Because of the absence of management alternatives, very little information has been produced for evaluating management strategies. Interaction: Bargaining is a common method for resolving differences. Although the F&WB has encouraged debate among committee members, very little bargaining or compromise has occurred on issues where differences of opinion have existed. This appears to be related to the absence of many of the planning stages at which bargaining could have taken place. All government agencies have shown co-operation in their willingness to discuss issues of concern to the public interest groups. Effectiveness: Almost every public interest group qualified the extent to which their participation had been of value to the planning process.. Most of these members felt that, on at least one issue, their contribution was disregarded or that they were not given adequate opportunity to participate. Efficiency: All government agencies indicated that the time and resources spent on committee activities were very productive. The evaluation has indicated that there are a number of weaknesses in the management system as revealed by the planning process. The following recommendations are made to strengthen the process in terms of the normative elements of the decisionmaking process and in light of theories of political-administrative behavior: (1) There should be better representation by public groups affected by recreational developments at the PWMA; (2) There should be structural changes to the management system involving a long-range plan which is updated annually, the production of annual plans which coincide with the F&WB budgetary process, and the establishment of a budget for the management of the PWMA; and (3) There should be rule changes in the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee which would ensure the production of detailed agendas, information and problem statements regarding the most important items on the agendas, alternative solutions in the resolution of all issues, and information pertaining to the consequences of alternatives. If the operation of the PWMA Advisory Committee is reorganized to incorporate these recommendations, this management system should serve as a useful model for public involvement in wildlife management in other areas of B.C.

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