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  • 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used to acquire both information about the role and realm of responsibility of each agency in managing Siletz Bay, and unpublished data from representatives of 36 agencies. 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.
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