In Freshwater Resources Management: Lessons from Survey Data on Environmental Conditions at Sebago Lake, Maine

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Northeastern Geographer


Conservation management, freshwater systems, New England, Sebago Lake, Maine, sustainability


Sustainability science has argued that resident community and stakeholder engagement in environmental resources stewardship is an important component to building more robust conservation management models. Furthermore, recent guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency have identified stakeholder and community partnerships as an essential component for non-point source water protection Section 319 funding. Using insights from the environmental perceptions literature, this study engages local residents and stakeholders through surveys to document their perceptions and insights to the general environmental landscape surrounding Sebago Lake, a vital freshwater resource in southern Maine, and gauge their support for lake management and conservation stewardship priorities. A mail-in lake use and management survey was sent to 362 residents and stakeholders in towns that surround Sebago Lake. Data are analyzed using descriptive and non-parametric statistics as well as content analysis to document residents' perceptions about a variety of issues affecting Sebago Lake and its surrounding. Survey data provide detailed insights to the most pressing threats to this ecosystem's long-term sustainability as well as other general baseline environmental conditions. Survey data such as these can help policy makers evaluate stakeholders' attitudes, perceptions and insights, and integrate these when arriving at practical solutions. Likewise, the community benefits through greater involvement, having their voices heard, and a stake in the shared governance and protection of natural resources that are vital to their own livelihoods and sense of place


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