Date of Award
Master of Science
Changing lake conditions due to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) have prompted inconsistent and evolving management and recreational use of Southern Illinois University’s Campus Lake. The objective of this study was to address the need for understanding lake-user demographics, CyanoHAB and Campus Lake perception, and support for potential Campus Lake programs. I accomplish this by implementing and summarizing Lake-User and Student Questionnaires, applying an Experience Use History (EUH) method to categorize respondents, and utilizing university resources to understand the effects of environmental variables on perception of Campus Lake. Respondent demographics fit typical leisure participation, where most lake users were encountered walking/jogging. Students participating in the Campus Lake Sustainable Eco-Recreation program self-report a higher familiarity with lake water quality and CyanoHABs than non-participants. There was little evidence of Nature Deficit Disorder, and no difference in support for hypothetical management action options based on this factor. Backwards stepwise regression analysis of stated choice management action support for two hypothetical lake management plans resulted in a proscriptive outcome. EUH results modeled expected sociodemographic characteristics, and Beginners showed support for increasing recreation activity to support hypothetical lake management. Perceptions of Campus Lake water quality status were best correlated with visible algal growth, Temperature-Heat-Solar radiation-Wind index, and mean prior 24 hr relative humidity variables. This Campus Lake survey should be used to diversify lake accessibility and recreation programs targeted towards minority and special interest groups. Surveying of natural resource user perceptions, especially in the case of shifting quality, is a valuable tool to monitor and capitalize on public interest.
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