Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Sarah Klain


Sarah Klain


Mark Brunson


Thomas Monaco


In an increasingly polarized political climate–particularly in the U.S.– environmental issues such as climate change and its effects on the environment have become hot-button partisan talking points resulting in further division. This has led to research on ways to communicate science which does not further inflame political tensions, but rather reinforces and validates the audience’s values. Science communication research provides the foundation for my case study, which focuses on characterizing the environmental values and worldviews of land managers residing and working near the Boa Ogoi Historical Site in southern Idaho. The Northwest Band of Shoshone Nation (NWBSN) is in the process of building a cultural interpretive center at Boa Ogoi, as well as restoring the land surrounding the site of the 1863 Bear River Massacre to ecological conditions similar to the years before the event. The Tribe has shown interest in working with their neighbors, particularly those upstream. This could help them achieve larger restoration goals for Boa Ogoi, particularly improving the highly degraded water quality on the site. This research seeks to inform the Tribe’s and the Tribe’s restoration collaborators’ communication efforts with upstream landmanagers. My first study uses interview data with 12 nearby land managers to identify important values underlying the relationship that local land stewards have with the management of their land. I compare these values with a profile of the dominant political and religious groups of the area. Interview participants largely identify as land stewards who feel a responsibility to care for land as well as their communities. In my second study, data from my interviews highlighted important plant and animal species in the region, specifically beaver, mule deer, elk, and Russian olive. My analysis of the relationships that landowners have with these species shows that they manage them largely out of a sense of responsibility to their neighbors and community, as well as a responsibility to future generations. Many of the study participants were members of families who had resided in the area for multiple generations, which gives many of them knowledge of and preferences related to managing these species. Understanding how these individuals value the species in question could be important for building working relationships between the Tribe and their neighbors, such as collaborative invasive species management and a collective effort to improve habitat for valued game species like mule deer.