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Idaho State University

Stakeholder Survey and Visitor Experience Photography (VEP)

Idaho State University Participants

Donna Lybecker, Mark McBeth, Katrina Running, Yolonda Youngs, James Stoutenborough, Nick Pelikan (graduate student), Travis Stephens (graduate student), Xochitl Sanchez (MURI student)

Partners and Affilation

City of Pocatello and stakeholders from around Southeast Idaho

Research Problem

Stakeholder Survey in Pocatello/Chubbuck loaction: Prepare and administer a survey to stakeholders, including policy decision makers, within the Pocatello, Idaho region in order to obtain preliminary data for EPSCoR MILES work by: identifying stakeholder groups, providing baseline data on stakeholder group demographics, and gaining data on attitudes and beliefs concerning ecosystem services, and citizenship perspectives.

VEP - "Visitor Experience Photography": provides insight into what people (literally) view as notable via photographs in order to begin the process of understanding and analyzing the historical and current patterns of and attitudes toward landscape change, and help identify social drivers of that change and thus vulnerabilities in the ecosystem services.

Research Outcomes

Stakeholder Survey: To accomplish this, created a survey instrument in conjunction with the City of Pocatello, in order to achieve outcomes beneficial to both MILES and the City. We worked with experts from federal, state and local agencies, along with economic and community stakeholders in order to compile a list of 150 stakeholders. We then distributed the survey. Ninety stakeholders responded to the survey. With help from graduate students and MURI students, we analyzed the data and then shared results with all interested stakeholders. From this data we have given multiple presentations to community groups, have two accepted publications and a third being revised for submission. The data from this survey was also used by the City of Pocatello to help develop a Portneuf River Visioning plan and survey.

VEP: To accomplish this, two graduate students asked stakeholders to participate in an activity to photograph features, places, or activities that are most notable to them along the Portneuf River. The respondents also answered a few demographic and anthropocentric (human centered values) vs. eco-centric (ecology centered values) survey questions. The results were used in two ways, first to understand how stakeholders’ survey responses correlated to their visual, photographic responses. And second, to use the stakeholders’ photographs, along with historic photographs, to create a “story map,” photos linked via Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to maps to display the spatial element of the people’s views and attitudes toward the river. From this data we have not only the story map, but also an article written with both a MURI student (Xochitl Sanchez) and a graduate student (Nick Pelikan), being prepared to submit to the Journal of Applied Recreation Research.

Potential Impacts

Information for the City and stakeholders concerning how others value the river and what they value about the river. This information is already helping the City in the process of “Re-visioning the Portneuf River.” It was also used to create a public survey that has been administered; data is being analyzed. Both of these surveys will also allow for insights into how various stakeholder groups can work together (similar desired outcomes and values) and into what people (stakeholders and the public) want to see protected. Finally this work is and will continue to allow university scientists to collaborate with partners and stakeholders, determining policies that can work with the public and stakeholder values associated with the Portneuf River. This will then lead to more public participation and policies that are more likely to be supported and successful.


Story map by Yolonda Youngs: Managing Idaho's Landscapes for Ecosystem Services (MILES)


Lybecker, Donna L., Mark K. McBeth, James Stoutenborough. “Do We Understand what the Public Hears: Stakeholders Preferred Communication Choices for Discussing River Issues with the Public.” Forthcoming, Review of Policy Research.

McBeth, Mark K., Donna L. Lybecker, James Stoutenborough. “Do Stakeholders Analyze their Audience?: The Communication Switch and Stakeholder Personal versus Public Communication Choices” Forthcoming, Policy Science.

Stoutenborough, James, Mark K. McBeth, Donna L. Lybecker. “Risk and River Narratives: Incorporating Risk Perceptions into the Narrative Policy Framework” Under review at Policy Studies Journal.

McBeth, Mark K., Donna L. Lybecker, James Stoutenborough, Katrina Running, “River Stories or Science? How do Stakeholders Understand Policy Issues," Rejected from Environment and Planning. In revision for submission to Public Policy and Administration.

Lybecker, Donna L., Mark K. McBeth, Xochitl Sanchez, Nick Pelikan “Visitor Experience Photography: Values along the Portneuf River.” Draft article to be submitted to the Journal of Applied Recreation Research.