First Advisor

Rebecca McLain

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Environmental Studies and University Honors


Environmental Studies


Environmental management -- Washington (State) -- Public opinion, Environmental management -- Washington (State) -- Citizen participation, Place (Philosophy) -- Social aspects, Environmental protection -- Washington (State) -- Attitudes




There is a growing need for involvement of local communities in environmental management in order to develop dynamic and holistic management strategies. Communities have direct impact on the ecosystems they live in; therefore, it is vital to understand the environmental values and knowledge of environmental threats held by those communities. Integrating the community’s knowledge into local environmental management can help engage instead of alienate them. The relationship between rural communities and their local environment in Puget Island, WA was investigated by conducting interviews with residents, examining at their values and understanding of environmental issues. Additionally, this research investigates how sense of place can change with the shifting social, economic, and environmental conditions on the island. Finally, this research looks at whether environmental management of the island aligns with the views of residents, showing a need for stronger community-based environmental management.

Interviews with residents revealed a division of established and new residents as source of social tension on the Island. Sense of place was strong with both groups; however, the values held by residents are changing with an increase in new residents. Newer residents were more aware of environmental issues but not as likely as established residents to be actively involved in the community. Further research showed that there a knowledge gap exists between residents and environmental management agencies in how and why issues are being managed. It is recommended that residents form a representative organization to communicate with and for these agencies, and promote the environmental protection of the Island.


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