Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Co-chair

Tyron Venn, Neil Moisey

Commitee Members

Sarah Halvorson, Alan Watson


ecosystem services, Q-methodology, Shoshone National Forest


University of Montana


There is a wide range of goods and services being provided to humans by water resources (e.g. hydropower and recreation), but there is also a diversity of stakeholders that require or desire these benefits, also known as water-based ecosystem services, for everyday life. Land managers working for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service in the semi-arid Rocky Mountain Region are tasked with the difficult job of managing scarce water resources in the face of competing human pressures and natural forces (e.g. climate change). Water management decisions on public lands can potentially impact the availability of a wide range of benefits derived from water to a wide range of stakeholders. This project aimed to inform policy-makers and land managers about the range of benefits people derive from water within and flowing from the Shoshone National Forest (SNF), and the importance of those water benefits to stakeholders in northwest Wyoming. Additionally, this project aimed to understand the perceptions of stakeholders regarding the threat of climate change, and other factors, to their ability to receive certain water-based ecosystem services. The use of literature review, focus groups, and pilot tests helped to identify 34 water-based ecosystem services being derived from the SNF. An understanding of stakeholder preference for those 34 ecosystem services was obtained through the use of a preference elicitation method called Q-methodology, which was administered to 96 stakeholders covering a broad range of interests. Factor analysis of the 96 surveys yielded four major perspectives that explain, in a nuanced fashion, 48% of the study variance. The four viewpoints were named the environmental perspective, agricultural perspective, Native American perspective, and recreation perspective. The preferences for each of the four viewpoints with regard to water-based ecosystem services are presented holistically, however, each of the viewpoints is partly defined by two ‘most important’ ecosystem services. Those ‘most important’ water-based ecosystem services were water quality (‘most important’ to two different viewpoints), household/municipal use (‘most important’ to two different viewpoints), Native American cultural and spiritual values, commercial irrigation, river-based fishing, and biodiversity conservation. The threat of climate change to the ability of stakeholders to receive their most important water-based ecosystem services was acknowledged by the majority of stakeholders but, in many cases, there was skepticism that climate change is anything more than a natural trend. Additionally, stakeholders were concerned about water quality, federal and state government management and regulations (e.g. reservoirs and in-stream flow management), and other competing uses impacting their ability to receive their most important ecosystem services.



© Copyright 2012 Christopher Aden Armatas