Local property-owning residents maintain high levels of interest
and awareness regarding a neighboring natural resource complex.
Factors, however, such as proximity, personal interests, use patterns
and economic considerations cause local inhabitants to have an
inaccurate perception of the natural resource complex. The nature
of local resident perception can be analyzed through three topics
about the complex; use patterns, development alternatives, and the
management structure. Representatives of managing agencies assume
local residents have a fallacious perception of the complex. Both
the characteristics and causes of this inaccuracy, however, have not
been measured or analyzed in detail. If managing agencies possessed
precise information about these misconceptions, it could be used to
improve the efficiency of the management system. Agency awareness
of this information would also be used to increase the efficiency
of interaction between local residents and agency officials.
An estuary was selected as the focus of this study because
these natural resource complexes are delicate, and include many
critical interrelationships among components. This study was undertaken
at Siletz Bay, a small estuary along the central Oregon coast.
Siletz Bay was selected because development directly affecting the
Bay is limited and centers on recreational and residential uses.
The four communities surrounding Siletz Bay are typical of a majority
of communities in Oregon's littoral.
Information about local residents was acquired through a questionnaire,
soliciting responses from 146, or 23%, of the households
in the four communities adjacent to Siletz Bay. Information gathered
and analyzed in this survey was compared to available factual information.
In addition, a second questionnaire was used to acquire both
information about the role and realm of responsibility of each agency
in managing Siletz Bay, and unpublished data from representatives of
Local residents only responded accurately to questions related
to personal use patterns. Most respondents did not comprehend the
complex natural interrelationships in an estuarine environment and
the possible effects of feasible development proposals. They
demonstrated the greatest lack of knowledge when asked questions
about the estuarine management structure. An outstanding problem
in estuarine management is that individual agencies are function oriented,
and not responsible for managing the natural resource
complex. The local public would benefit from increased interaction
with agencies at all levels, not only to learn more about the roles
of these agencies, but also to acquire additional information about
the estuary to improve the accuracy of their perception.