Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 711–722 | Cite as

Building Local Community Commitment to Wetlands Restoration: A Case Study of the Cache River Wetlands in Southern Illinois, USA

  • Mae A. DavenportEmail author
  • Christopher A. Bridges
  • Jean C. Mangun
  • Andrew D. Carver
  • Karl W. J. Williard
  • Elizabeth O. Jones


Natural resource professionals are increasingly faced with the challenges of cultivating community-based support for wetland ecosystem restoration. 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.


Ecosystem restoration Community-based conservation Wetlands Qualitative research 



Funding for this study was provided by the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; The Nature Conservancy; the Cache River Joint Venture Partnership; and the McIntire-Stennis Forestry Cooperative Research Program. The authors would like to acknowledge the Cache River community members who shared their perspectives with us. Finally, we would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their insight and suggestions. Their contributions helped strengthen this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mae A. Davenport
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher A. Bridges
    • 2
  • Jean C. Mangun
    • 3
  • Andrew D. Carver
    • 4
  • Karl W. J. Williard
    • 4
  • Elizabeth O. Jones
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry, Wildlife & FisheriesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental StudiesSiena CollegeLoudonvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of ForestrySouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  5. 5.Cypress Creek National Wildlife RefugeU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceUllinUSA

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