Local Implementation Of The State Wildlife Action Plan In Coastal North Carolina
Heath, Jamie L.
Because of a congressional mandate, all states have created a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) in line with the goals of ecosystem management. The SWAPs are intended to present a coordinated action agenda at the state level for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. While ecosystem management requires support from all levels of government, implementation must occur at the local level in development decision making processes. There are a number of challenges involved in implementing a state plan at the local level. It is vital that barriers to local implementation of the SWAPs be addressed if the plans are to be successfully implemented. The NC SWAP was developed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and little is known about local implementation of the plan. This research focuses on local implementation of the NC SWAP in the three coastal counties of Beaufort, Carteret and Craven. I used qualitative interviewing to determine whether local governments were aware of the NC SWAP, whether local governments had taken action towards implementation of the NC SWAP, whether WRC has contacted or worked with local governments in the study area, and to identify barriers to implementation of the NC SWAP in the study area. Fifty-two interviews were conducted including interviews with local planners, employees of WRC, and employees of supporting state government agencies and non-profits. In general, I found that the NC SWAP does not have the level of local implementation needed to be successful in the study area. Most local governments have heard of the NC SWAP, but most have not taken steps towards implementation. However, I found that most planners personally support the plan, but do not have the support of their governing bodies to take steps toward implementation. Since governing bodies tend to respond to voters, this indicates a lack of support for the goals of ecosystem management from the public. There has been limited outreach from WRC in the study area. WRC cited a need for more staff as the reason for limited outreach, as funding cuts from both the state and federal level have caused a staff cap to be initiated within the entire agency. The top barrier to implementation of the NC SWAP identified by all three groups of interviewees was the need for more education and outreach (local government and public). The second most common barrier identified was capacity issues (lack of staff and funding), the third was population and development pressure, and the fourth was the need for stronger regulations. Based on these findings, my recommendations for improving local implementation of the NC SWAP include granting WRC more funding to hire full time staff to focus on education and outreach, and shifting the responsibilities of some other WRC employees to education and outreach if this is not a possibility. In addition, I recommend that WRC and local governments reach out to supporting agencies for assistance with education and outreach. I also recommend that the SWAP to be used to develop state level policy to guide local implementation of habitat conservation in development decision making. This research provides valuable insight into how the NC SWAP is being implemented in the study area, what barriers to implementation exist, and potential strategies for overcoming barriers and increasing implementation of the plan. This research also provides a guideline for studies on local implementation of the NC SWAP in other counties and local implementation of SWAPs in other states.
Heath, Jamie L.. (January 2015). Local Implementation Of The State Wildlife Action Plan In Coastal North Carolina (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5013.)
Heath, Jamie L.. Local Implementation Of The State Wildlife Action Plan In Coastal North Carolina. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2015. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5013. October 19, 2017.
Heath, Jamie L., “Local Implementation Of The State Wildlife Action Plan In Coastal North Carolina” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2015).
Heath, Jamie L.. Local Implementation Of The State Wildlife Action Plan In Coastal North Carolina [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2015.
East Carolina University