Community-based watershed restoration in Appalachia
- My dissertation focuses on community-based natural resource management in Appalachia, a resource-dependent region of the United States. I explore the grassroots watershed movement to restore rivers and streams contaminated by coal-mine pollution. The community watershed organizations in this study have voluntarily taken on acid mine drainage, rural wastewater, and other problems of water pollution that have yet to be addressed by government programs or legal action. Through longstanding relationships with the communities I study, I investigate community-based institutions while also shedding light on broader issues of participation in and persistence of community-based natural resource management efforts. The first part of this research asks: What motivates participation in watershed groups in places with a legacy of pollution from coal mining? To address this question, I analyzed qualitative data from a survey of more than 200 watershed group volunteers in Appalachia who were asked to describe experiences that encouraged or discouraged their participation. "Place" emerged as a key theme, with further delineations between made places (those highly affected by human activity, including coal extraction); natural places; and re-made places (those restored through the efforts of the watershed group). My findings suggest that the places themselves—and the natural, institutional, and social resources in these places—are more than simply a backdrop or setting for the volunteer activities; they also inspire, enhance, and are transformed by the act of volunteering. Given the social, political, and environmental context in Appalachia, the second part of this research asks: How have watershed groups been able to persist and address the problem of water quality in rivers and streams in places with extensive pollution and limited financial resources? To address this question, I integrated data from participant observation, key informants, and a survey of 48 residents who were not members of local watershed groups. My findings demonstrate that the persistence and success of watershed groups are due, in part, to an informal web connecting local residents and watershed groups through neighboring acts and norms of responsibility. I augment the concept of nestedness in commons governance, previously considered as the nesting of a formal organization within larger governance structures, to include intra-community networks of support. The third part of my dissertation starts from a problem -- the erratic and lower-than-expected performance of passive systems to treat acid mine drainage. Through an in-depth case study including interviews and analysis of water-quality data collected by a watershed group, I develop a framework to explain variation in treatment system performance. Previously viewed in the academic literature as a treatment technology issue, I widen the scope of inquiry to include hydro-geochemical and policy-related explanations for observed system shortcomings. These results frame a discussion of alternative policies for dealing with acid mine drainage from coal mines. Through the study of watershed groups in Appalachia, my dissertation offers new perspectives on the importance of place in motivating participation, informal networks in supporting local-level collective action, and policy to address externalities of fossil-fuel production. Taken together, these findings suggest critical interrelated roles for watershed residents, organized groups, and public policy to achieve and leverage the benefits of stream restoration in Appalachia.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (Stanford University)
|Ardoin, Nicole M. (Nicole Michele)
|Ardoin, Nicole M. (Nicole Michele)
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2014.
- © 2014 by Heather Lukacs
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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