Rick Van de Poll
Department of Environmental Studies
Protected areas in the United States have been established for a number of conflicting reasons. Examples are the protection of threatened resources and environmental services such as clean water and air, and economic development. Evaluation of protected area management strategies is often highly subjective. Attempts to provide objective evaluations and to quantify objective criteria have been inadequate. They have failed to follow basic mathematical concepts and rarely used a previously developed multicriteria decision model. The trend appears to be moving towards more qualitative evaluations, which has likely been influenced by past failures of quantitative evaluations. This project proposed and demonstrates the use of multiattribute utility analysis as a tool for evaluating alternative protected areas management strategies. The methodology proposed is based on Chechile (1991) and adapted with input from Betters and Rubingh (1978). The proposed methodology is applied to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine. While problems were encountered in identifying an appropriate set of alternatives management strategies, determining threshold levels and obtaining accurate measures of attributes, the methodology provided a precise way of determining importance weights, and objectively evaluating the alternative using replicable methods. The project concludes by proposing a new set of basic steps for evaluating alternative protected area management strategies using multiattribute utility analysis.