Winds of Change- Predicting Water-Based Recreationists’ Support and Opposition for Proposed Offshore Wind Energy Development in the Great Lakes
This study examined the factors influencing water-based recreationists' perceptions of support and opposition towards off-shore wind energy development (OWD) on Lake Erie. Much of the proposed or future Lake Erie OWD infrastructure may either be within or adjacent to public lands, waters, and protected areas, raising concerns about the potential environmental and social impacts upon recreation stakeholders. The limited body of OWD research within the United States has suggested there are numerous factors that may influence overall perceptions of support and opposition such as political orientation and beliefs in climate change. Moreover, recent research has proposed that the perceived recreation impact of OWD may be the most important predictor of support and opposition. This study confirmed this premise and found the perceived recreation impact of OWD to be the strongest predictor of support. Results of a multiple linear regression suggested that political orientation (β = 0.135), beliefs in the anthropogenic causation of climate change (β = 0.207), beliefs in the occurrence of climate change (β = 0.213), and the perceived recreation impact of OWD among water-based recreationists (β = 0.439) were significant predictors of support for OWD on Lake Erie (R2 = 0.46). Study findings corroborated previous research which suggested that regional climate change beliefs and political attitudes may influence support for OWD. From a policy and management standpoint, study results highlight the importance of assessing and communicating recreation experience and use impacts when planning, developing, and managing OWD and related decisions in the United States.