Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Resource Management

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Tyron Venn

Commitee Members

Michael Patterson, Andrew Larson


ecosystem services, stakeholder, Idaho, wilderness, q-methodology, q-sort


University of Montana


Wilderness management is directed by policy and legislation that mandates protection of the values associated with wilderness character. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that wilderness benefits society in many ways, beyond the values associated with wilderness character. If that is the case, then failure to account for those values will lead to socially inefficient management decisions. The Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RONRW) in central Idaho was selected as a case study region in which to test the hypothesis that society derives a multitude of benefits from wilderness in addition to those associated with wilderness character. An ecosystem services (ES) framework was adopted to facilitate this research, and the diversity of wilderness ESs produced by the FC-RONRW was determined. A wide range of stakeholders who are affected by the management of this wilderness were identified and their perspectives on the relative importance of wilderness ES were compiled via Q-methodology and analyzed by factor analysis. Four statistically significant stakeholder perspectives about the relative importance of wilderness ESs in the FC-RONRW have been identified. Habitat and regulatory ESs, such as biodiversity conservation, water retention and storage, and natural fire regimes were most important to the ‘ecocentric perspective’. Information ESs, such as solitude, practicing outdoor skills, and experiencing landscapes and wildlife were most important to the ‘wilderness use’ perspective. Another perspective, ‘use of treaty rights’, prioritized direct-use information ESs, such as exercising treaty rights, the protection and contextualization of sacred sites, and the provisioning of native cultural traditions. Respondents who significantly loaded onto the ‘multiple use’ perspective prioritized both direct and indirect ESs, and both regulatory and information ESs, such as water for in-stream use, air quality, and water retention and storage. This research can be used to build awareness within society-at-large for the full-range of benefits wilderness produces. If society is more aware of the full-range of benefits, more informed allocations of resources for the protection and management of wilderness ESs can be made.



© Copyright 2014 Benjamin Thomas Irey