What do Citizens Value about Living on the Coast?
In 2010, MBNEP initiated CCMP planning by recognizing a need to use citizen input as a foundation for future planning efforts. By basing the next CCMP on what people value, our hope is to more fully engage our coastal community in taking ownership of our environmental future. MBNEP hired Research Strategies, Inc. to undertake an assessment of what people value most and what concerns them most about living in coastal Alabama.
Five hundred and fifty citizens, randomly selected by zip code across the two counties, participated in this assessment. This study was augmented by a series of community organization meetings with the Saraland Chamber of Commerce, Bay Minette Rotary, Fowl River Area Civic Association, North Mobile Rotary Club, both the Baldwin and Mobile County League of Women Voters, Gulf Shores Kiwanis, and Robertsdale Rotary Clubs. In addition, MBNEP held two citizen input meetings for the general public in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Finally, Auburn University was commissioned to undertake a "community values" mapping study where 264 residents randomly selected from Mobile and Baldwin counties identified areas on a map that was of a particular value or concern. These responses were compiled into maps displaying "kernel densities" or "hot spots" throughout the two counties related to those values and concerns.
In sum, these efforts produced input from over one thousand residents. An analysis of this input revealed six common values that are most important to our coastal quality of life:
Access to water/open spaces for recreation and vistas ~ Beaches and Shorelines protection, economy, beauty ~ Fish habitats, abundance, livelihood ~ Heritage/Culture protecting the legacy of the coast ~ Resiliency capacity of human and natural physical systems to rebound from unforeseen events, protecting beauty ~ Water Quality whether drinkable, fishable or swimmable, the public places high value on quality rivers, creeks and bays.