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Methods for Gathering Stakeholder and Public Input for Conservation Planning

Over the course of three years, the Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry has embarked on a multi-pronged effort to obtain input on its strategic planning process from staff, stakeholders, and the general public. They have utilized a mixed-method approach consisting of different survey methods, interview, and facilitation techniques to this end. Part of the work involved a collaboration with the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg (CSR). Input processes have included public opinion polls, cognitive interviews, focus groups, online in-depth interviews, stakeholder surveys, and various meeting facilitation methods. A major effort has been participation in the 2019 and 2020 Lion Poll, which is a statistically valid sampling of adult Pennsylvanians. The Bureau used the Lion Poll to explore public opinion on the value of PA forests, threats to PA forests, value of Bureau services, and forest visitor and user experiences. Prior to the 2020 Lion Poll, the CSR team utilized cognitive interviewing, which is a method for testing the survey questions using an in-depth interviewing technique that explores the mental processes that respondents use to answer survey questions. The Lion Poll, as well as the other data collection techniques, will be explained with example results presented. This session is intended to give attendees ideas for how they might conduct enhanced staff, stakeholder, and public outreach efforts.