Attitudes and perceptions about ecological resources, hazards, and future land use of people living near the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

Joanna Burger, Donald E. Roush, Jessica Sanchez, Jeanine Ondrof, Robert Ramos, Michael J. McMahon, Michael Gochfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the attitudes and perceptions of local people about ecological resources, environmental hazards, and future land use of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). Such monitoring of attitudes is an important aspect of environmental assessment. We interviewed 262 people who attended the 42nd Annual Free Fishermen's Breakfast at St. Anthony, Idaho, on 23 March 1997. We tested the null hypotheses that there were no differences in perceptions about ecological resources, hazards and future land use of INEEL as a function of gender, age, education, and place of residence. Dumping trash in the ocean and cutting rainforests rated as the environmental problems of highest concern, and ozone, radon and high voltage lines rated the lowest; cleaning up Department of Energy sites rated intermediate. Respondents were most willing to expend government funds to make drinking water clean. Three significant differences were found: 1) women rated environmental problems as more severe than did men, and women were more willing to expend federal funds to solve these problems, 2) respondents under 30 years of age rated environmental problems as more severe than older people, and they were more willing to spend money to solve them, and, 3) respondents who had not finished high school were more concerned with environmental problems and were more willing to spend money to solve them than respondents with a high school education. Maintaining INEEL as a National Environmental Research Park (NERP) rated as the most preferred future land use, followed by continued reprocessing of nuclear materials and hunting. Using INEEL for housing and additional nuclear waste storage rated the lowest. Men rated grazing livestock and additional nuclear waste storage higher than did women. In general, respondents from 30-49 rated several economic uses (hunting, grazing livestock, growing crops) higher than did people in other age groups. Respondents with some college rated these economic uses higher than did respondents who had not graduated from high school. These results indicate that respondents living around INEEL believe that INEEL should continue with a reprocessing and NERP mission, but that other peripheral uses, such as hunting, hiking and grazing, should be allowed on some of the land. These views should aid in environmental assessment of the site, and in developing further management plans for INEEL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental monitoring and assessment
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Keywords

  • Ecological resources
  • Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory
  • Land use
  • Perceptions
  • Recreation

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