Davenport, M.A., C.A. Bridges, J.C. Mangun, A.D. Carver, K.W.J. Williard and E.O. Jones
While extensive research efforts have been directed toward understanding the biophysical dimensions of wetland conservation, the literature provides less guidance on how to successfully integrate community stakeholders into restoration planning. Therefore, this study explores the social construction of wetlands locally, and community members’ perceptions of the wetland restoration project in the Cache River Watershed of southern Illinois, where public and private agencies have partnered together to implement a large-scale wetlands restoration project. Findings illustrate that the wetlands hold diverse and significant meanings to community members and that community members’ criteria for project success may vary from those identified by project managers. The case study provides managers with strategies for building community commitment such as engaging local citizens in project planning, minimizing local burdens, maximizing local benefits, and reducing uncertainty.