The following list provides an overview of some of the research projects we have been working on at the Socio-Environmental Research Lab (SERL). If you would like more information about any of these projects, please contact Dr. Michael Schuett:

• Ready, Set, Go! Program Evaluation.  The program seeks to develop and improve dialogue between fire and emergency service agencies, and the residents they serve. In order to provide feedback on the RSG! Program, a questionnaire was developed and implemented to assess how its tools/resources meet the needs of those agencies who utilize the program.

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The study purpose was guided by the three tenets of the RSG! Program: help residents be Ready with preparedness understanding, be Set with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to Go, acting early when a fire threatens. Data were collected from current IAFC members. The information gathered provides support for their ongoing effort to develop resources that aid fire departments and EMS providers to better prepare the communities they serve for wildland fire events. This study was conducted with Dr. Gerard Kyle and Chen Ding.

• Attitudes, Behavior, and Management Preferences of Texas Artificial Reef Users. The Texas Artificial Reef Act directs the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to promote, develop, maintain, monitor, and enhance the artificial reef potential in state waters and federal waters adjacent to Texas. Artificial reefs are defined as a structure or system of structures constructed, placed, or permitted in the navigable water of Texas or water of the federal exclusive economic zone adjacent to Texas for the purpose of enhancing fishery resources and commercial and recreational fishing opportunities. In order to provide the Artificial Reef Program with updated information about individuals who use artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico for recreation, a mail survey was conducted.

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The sample was drawn from the saltwater angler and boat registration databases for coastal and adjacent counties as well as counties from selected metropolitan areas. The findings provide management staff with an understanding of issues underlying saltwater anglers and boaters in several areas: (a) boating and fishing participation in the Gulf of Mexico; (b) awareness and knowledge of TPWD’s artificial reefs and other artificial reefs in the Gulf; (c) trip expenditures on past trips; (d) management and reef preferences; and (e) socio-demographic characteristics. This study was conducted with Dr. Gerard Kyle and Chen Ding.

• Examining the Relationship between Stakeholders and Everglades National Park. Diverse groups of stakeholders have become increasingly involved with parks and protected areas that are impacted by impending development, population shift and other natural processes. A collaborative approach to landscape conservation is necessary to cultivate natural resource stewardship but challenging given the diverse backgrounds of external partners. This study examined the relationships between stakeholders and one of the most biologically diverse U.S. national parks, Everglades National Park. This park is home to over 20 rare, endangered/threatened species and provides habitat for over 400 species of birds. However, Everglades NP is also on the World Heritage Danger list threatened by poaching, disruption in water flow, pollution, and development.

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The results of this research report on interviews with 51 stakeholder groups representing government, businesses, and conservation organizations. Study participants were asked about meanings of the park, change over time, involvement with the park, relationships, and the future. Data analysis is ongoing. Theoretically, the findings provide a better understanding of diverse stakeholders’ and their relationships with national parks. For park managers, the results facilitate more effective strategies to guide conservation in and beyond park boundaries. This study was conducted with Yunseon Choe and Dr. David Matarrita.

• Urban National Parks and Adjacent Communities: Understanding Stakeholders’ Perspectives. Urban expansion and population shift have modified the existing landscape throughout the U.S. Instead of historically being located on remote areas, an increasing number of national parks and protected areas are surrounded by newly formed communities; however, these changes have brought new challenges for both park managers and adjacent communities. This study examined the different perceptions and attitudes (framed around notions of place meanings, change, and involvement) that community stakeholders have in relation to National Parks. To reach this study objective, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was selected as the study area. The park site is home to four of the original six Spanish colonial missions built in the 1700s.

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Interviews were conducted with 33 different community stakeholders including, Native Americans, park staff, friends-of-the-park groups, and residents living close to the missions. Data analysis is ongoing. This study is anticipated to improve the collaboration among community stakeholders, residents, and park managers. This study was conducted with Dr. David Matarrita, Guillermo Canales, Ying Xu and Aby Sene-Harper.

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