Restoring a “scenically challenged” landscape: Landowner preferences for pine barrens treatment practices

Paul H. Gobster, Arne Arnberger, Ingrid E. Schneider, Kristin M. Floress, Anna L. Haines, Michael J. Dockry, Claire Benton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A pine barrens is an open, fire-dependent ecological community once prevalent in sandy areas of northern Wisconsin (USA). Efforts to restore pine barrens on public lands have been hampered in part because their character does not conform to many people's ideals of Northwoods forest scenery, challenging land managers on how to balance social and ecological goals. We studied the manager-relevant attributes of a pine barrens restoration site to predict nearby landowners’ landscape preferences and to ascertain whether their preferences differed. We designed a discrete choice experiment where different levels of six attributes of pine barrens were systematically manipulated in visual choice scenarios and presented to landowners (N = 542) of small, family forest parcels in an online survey. Half of the respondents read an informational statement about barrens ecology and management prior to judging the scenarios for visual preference, while everyone answered questions about their knowledge and experience with barrens. Results showed dominant preferences for scenarios indicating a Northwoods “scenic aesthetic,” with smaller openings, higher tree density, and lower fire intervals and understory shrub density. Latent class and a priori segmentations revealed smaller subgroups of landowners had higher preferences for more open treatment designs tending toward an “ecological aesthetic,” and while previous experiences at pine barrens helped to distinguish subgroups, prior knowledge and information did not. Implications are discussed for restoring pine barrens in a social context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104104
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Volume211
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Research Joint Venture Agreement 17-JV-11242309-037 between the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Minnesota. We thank John Lampereur (Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest) and Brian Sturtevant, Deahn Donner-Wright, and Heather Jensen ( Northern Research Station ) for their assistance in the study. We also thank Rob Ribe ( University of Oregon ) and Jim Palmer ( Scenic Quality Consultants ) for feedback on our study plan, Don Anderson (StatDesign) for consulting on the experimental design, Sanhita Sengupta ( University of Minnesota ) for consulting on statistical analysis, Tamara Schlagbauer ( University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna ) for preparing the visual scenarios, and Carena van Riper ( University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Rob Ribe, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Research Joint Venture Agreement 17-JV-11242309-037 between the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Minnesota. We thank John Lampereur (Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest) and Brian Sturtevant, Deahn Donner-Wright, and Heather Jensen (Northern Research Station) for their assistance in the study. We also thank Rob Ribe (University of Oregon) and Jim Palmer (Scenic Quality Consultants) for feedback on our study plan, Don Anderson (StatDesign) for consulting on the experimental design, Sanhita Sengupta (University of Minnesota) for consulting on statistical analysis, Tamara Schlagbauer (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna) for preparing the visual scenarios, and Carena van Riper (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Rob Ribe, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Ecological aesthetic
  • Ecological restoration
  • Forest treatment preferences
  • Preference heterogeneity

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