Understanding Perceptions of Environmental Change Among residents of the Outer Banks

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1 Understanding Perceptions of Environmental Change Among residents of the Outer Banks Christine Avenarius, PhD Associate Professor of Anthropology, East Carolina University

2 In their own words presenting local voices This community engagement project was made possible by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ECU graduate students in anthropology and sustainable tourism Emily Ayscue, Leah Joyner, Daniel Johnson, Jessica Handloff, Janna Caspersen, Connor Winstead Local residents who talked to us

3 In their own words presenting local voices This community engagement project was made possible by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ECU graduate students in anthropology and sustainable tourism Emily Ayscue, Leah Joyner, Daniel Johnson, Jessica Handloff, Janna Caspersen, Connor Winstead Local residents who talked to us

4 Dare County, NC: Perceptions about the changing natural environment: What are your viewpoints about best practices for coastal management? What are your suggestions to ensure the long term health of the local economy?

5 What inspired this community project? Polarized opinions about: the current state of the natural environment and necessary remedies for coastal management

6 Are we coping or adapting?

7 How to find residents to talk to Flyers, postcards, mailing lists, volunteering in associations, participating in community events, s to ECU alumni, etc. Quota sample by gender, age, geographic region, income differences Purposive sample

8 Collecting voices Mixed method data collection average length of conversation: 75 minutes open ended questions (no prompts): descriptions about observed environmental changes sorting task: allocation of tax money to a set of projects sentence completion: evaluation of alternative energy projects ranking tasks: attitudes towards nature

9 Participant Demographics

10 Participant Demographics

11 Participant Demographics

12

13 How do we know that we know something about opinions and attitudes?

14 What is treasured 85% mention the wide open spaces as their favorite location: Pea Island, Coquina beach 65% mention the woods : Nags Head Woods, Kitty Hawk Woods

15 What is considered an eyesore 75% call Wings Stores and French Fry Ally the most prominent eyesores in Dare County 55% list the utility poles along the roads

16 What about the natural environment? Mother Nature is going to carve this island the way that she wants to. None of the coastline has stayed the same. The sand shifts and the ocean shifts too. We re living on a sandbar. It s naturally moving, nature will do what nature will do. You can complain, but mamma gets what she wants.

17 Some explanations evidence of awareness The dunes make the island vulnerable. We made a big mistake: we built up the dunes and built houses nearby. That should have never happened. If the island was never built up, it would ve rolled over upon itself, migrating west, and we would have more shoreline than what s there now.

18 We fool ourselves into thinking that we have nice natural beaches but we have stopped the natural process and that s why we need beach nourishment.

19 Sea level rise anyone? only 20% mention it Water level is changing, but it s hard to grasp and see evidence. I drive down past many of the wetlands every day. The sound is wind driven. Depending how the wind is coming, the tides will be in or out. So, I can t definitely say I ve noticed sea level rise.

20 What to do with mother nature? What to do when erosion hits? What to do when the sea encroaches?

21 Is beach nourishment the answer? The Nags Head Beach Nourishment project was a success. We need to do projects like that because the beach is our biggest resource. The beach is always going to be there. It just might not be where it is today. Trying to preserve these beaches is like pissing in the wind. Eventually, it s gonna do what it s gonna do. I hate the expense of beach nourishment and it might just last 4 years or so. But it has helped the economy, helped us stay.

22

23 Younger and older residents differ from the middle no support support with reservations full support to to to to

24 Not just a matter of your position in the lifecycle also a matter of how long you ve been a local no support support with reservations full support under 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 75% 100% born there

25 or is it just about the money? 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% no support support with reservations full support 30% 20% 10% 0% retired employed self employed business owner

26 and location matters too full support support with reservations no support Manteo/Mann's habor Beach towns Hatteras Island Note: please focus on the proportions, not the absolute number of responses. It is noteworthy that Hatteras Island and Manteo/Mann s harbor are home to the largest number of residents who grew up in Dare County

27 Let nature take its course, but let me make money first

28 more context awareness is localized emotions run high: don t regulate me tourism considered the only ticket looming threat of a big storm (none since 1962) supporters of non interference with environment want to keep Oregon inlet open for commercial fisheries

29 Density is a game changer

30 Reflections middle of the road opinions not as polarized (black and white) as anticipated uncertainty about economic future is more real than uncertainties about storms, etc urban sprawl reality meets trust in small town community residents age, position in the lifecycle, and economic constraints make a difference

31 Coping vs. Adapting revisited Humans are part of nature too OBX vulnerability is real on a personal level, economic stability is key for any adaption measure and needs to take consider the widespread compassion for property owners managing people, managing the message is the challenge

32

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