ECOLOGICAL DECISION MAKING

Carl E. Max
1992 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute


Rationale:

To provide a vehicle to discuss and make ecological decisions

Intended Grade Level:

High school

Objectives:

  • To raise environmental awareness

  • To provide a mechanism for environmental decision making

  • To act on environmental decisions

Materials:

Xerox

Procedures:

Introduction followed by individual, small group, and large group discussions

Evaluation:

Decision making model

In an August 3, 1987 plan, John L. Spinks, a regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated, "....... translocating wolves to Yellowstone National Park is appropriate now." The same plan also designated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service as agencies to develop a re-establishment plan and an environmental impact statement which would lead to the re-establishment of the wolf in the Yellowstone National Park area. This plan met with considerable support and opposition from different groups both in the Yellowstone area and nationwide and at present no wolves have been released into Yellowstone. As a matter of fact, the environmental impact statement has not been done.

Your task, beginning individually and later in small groups, is to use the enclosed decision making model and address the question of reintroducing the wolf into Yellowstone National Park. You should be guided by the statement made by Aldo Leopold from the Sand County Almanac, "Examine the question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right as well as what is economically expedient."

I. Background Information:

This information has been provided for you as a place to start. Consider it individually and in your small group discussion. You are expected to rely upon your own considerations, your group discussions, and individual and group research to complete the decision making model. Your group will have to report to the class and defend its decision. A minority report may also be given.

  1. The charge of the National Park Service is to protect a region's natural character and to maintain its natural processes so as to leave the region unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

  2. The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf has been shown to have inhabited the Yellowstone area and was most likely the main predator of large hoofed mammals throughout North America before 1900.

  3. By 1900, public opinion regarded the wolf as vermin and official programs led to its extermination from the Yellowstone area by 1940.

  4. Wolves presently have little numerical effect on large prey populations in such places as Denali National Park, Superior National Forest, Isle Royle National Park, and several Canadian National Parks. They may actually be beneficial to the health of their prey population.

  5. Presently, the wolf is on the Federal Endangered Species List. Regulations concerning endangered species complicate reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and must be considered if the wolves were to leave Yellowstone and stray into surrounding areas.

  6. Opponents of wolf reintroduction believe that two main problems could arise: (a) wolves could leave Yellowstone and begin feeding on livestock and (b) people in the area would have their own activities restricted because of regulations dealing with wolves.

  7. More specific objections, perceived or real, to wolf reintroduction are as follows:

    (a) Wolves are dangerous to humans.

    (b) Wolves will be serious predators to livestock outside the park.

    (c) Wolf management around Yellowstone will be prohibited by the Endangered Species Act.

    (d) Once wolves are released, they cannot be caught again.

    (e) Special regulations inside Yellowstone will restrict park visitors in order to protect the wolves.

    (f) Wolves will seriously reduce prey herds within Yellowstone.

    (g) Wolves will ruin hunting outside Yellowstone.

    (h) Wolves will kill or compete with the grizzly bear.

    (i) Once introduced, wolves will spread throughout the western U.S. and be uncontrollable.

    (j) Wolves never inhabited Yellowstone, so why put them there? (cf. #2)

    (k) Present wolf stock is not the same species as was once native, therefore it is wrong to introduce a non-native species.

    (l) Once wolves are introduced, the government will force unreasonable restrictions on the public that depend on lands surrounding Yellowstone.

II. Identify and Define The Problem

Do this for yourself now. Later, examine II with your group. It may need revision.

______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

III. Is There An Ethical Dilemma ?

Identify whether II above conflicts with what you believe is right.

______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

IV. Value Clarification.

  • (A) Use the "I" value sheet and list at least 5 personal values to support or go against III.
               RANK    PERSONAL VALUE           DEFINITION
               ____   ________________    _______________________
               ____   ________________    _______________________
               ____   ________________    _______________________
               ____   ________________    _______________________
               ____   ________________    _______________________

  • (B) Rank these values from 1 (most important) through 5 (least important)

  • (C) Are values 1 and 2 above in conflict when you look at the problem?
               YES______   NO_______

  • (D) List as many alternatives to the problem as you can.
               RANK                 ALTERNATIVE
               _____    ________________________________________
               _____    ________________________________________
               _____    ________________________________________
               _____    ________________________________________
               _____    ________________________________________

  • (E) Rank your alternative solutions from 1 (most important) through the least important.

  • (F) State your #1 alternative solution.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  • (G) List the values that you hold that make this your #1 solution.

                  "I" VALUE	              DEFINITION
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________

  • (H) Now state your least important solution.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  • (I) List the values that you hold that make this your least ranked solution.
                  "I" VALUE	                DEFINITION
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________

  • (J) SOLUTION

    State your #1 ranking from IV (D) above

    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  • (K) CONSEQUENCES

    List as many probable consequences as you can with respect to your solution if it were implemented. Be sure to state who or what is directly affected by each consequence.

                  WHO/WHAT	                CONSEQUENCE
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________
               ________________    ________________________________

  • (L) GOOD VS BAD

    Place a (+) beside each good consequence and a (-) beside each bad consequence. Ask yourself this question each time, "Would I be willing to have this action or consequence be applied to me ?"

  • (M) Tally your + and - marks.

  • (N) ASSESSMENT OF CHOICE

    Do you hold any values that conflict with your #1 choice or its consequences.
    NO______ YES ______ If yes, list them:

    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

    If yes, restate your solution or pick another solution and re-step through the process from III to the end. If you answered no, your decision is valid for you at this time in your life.

V. Opposition

In anticipation of your small group discussion, give reasons why others may not agree with your solution.

______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

VI. Small Group

Now meet in your small groups. Begin with a general discussion of your problem. You may choose a person to chair your discussion and/or subcommittees to research portions of your problem. Go through the entire decision making model again starting with II through V. Attempt to reach group consensus, but remember that a minority report to the class is possible.

VII. Class Discussion

Each small group will elect a spokesperson to report to the class, followed by a class discussion of your group's findings.

VIII. Conclusion

Consider your own solution, the small group's solution, and the class solution to the problem. Can one solution be applied to the problem ? If so, state it here.

______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

IX. Implementation

What can you or your class do to let others know about your solution to the problem?

______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

Put one of your solutions into action.

X. References

Decision making model adapted from John Hendrix, Ball State University with the help of Bill Smith, Hunter High School, West Valley, UT

Wolf reintroduction material adapted from The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem , edited by Robert b. Keiter and Mark S. Boyce, Yale University Press, New Haven, CN, 1991

XI. "I" Value Sheet For Environmental Decisions

The following list provides general overview of values that one may use to help the decision making process. Cross out values that have no meaning to you or add other that you find necessary. Be sure to define the added values.

  1. AESTHETICS - the appreciation and enjoyment of beauty for beauty's sake
  2. ACTIVISM - the taking of direct action to achieve a political or social end
  3. ADVOCACY - to speak in support of something
  4. ALTRUISM - concern for the interests of others
  5. APPRECIATION - sensitive awareness
  6. ARDOR - emotional zeal
  7. BEAUTY - the quality of being pleased
  8. BENEVOLENCE - an inclination to do good
  9. COMMITMENT - binding, as a pledge or promise
  10. CONCERN - interest in or regard for a person or thing
  11. CONSERVATISM - behavior tending to preserve established institutions
  12. DEPENDABILITY - trustworthy
  13. DEVOTION - loyalty or deep affection
  14. EDUCATION - process of teaching or gaining knowledge
  15. EMPATHY - ability to share feelings
  16. ENDANGERED SPECIES - organisms that may become extinct
  17. ENVIRONMENT - all conditions in the surroundings
  18. ESTEEM - to value highly
  19. ETHICAL - having a system of standards
  20. FERVOR - great warmth of emotion
  21. FUNDAMENTAL - forming a basis of action
  22. HARMONY - agreement in action
  23. HONEST - truthful or trustworthy
  24. IDEALISM - behavior based on conception of things as one thinks they should be
  25. INNOCENCE - without guile
  26. INNOVATIVE - willing to make changes
  27. INSPIRATIONAL - stimulus that results in creative thought or action
  28. INTEGRITY - complete honesty or sincerity
  29. INTERDEPENDENCE - mutual support, aid, or comfort
  30. KNOWLEDGE - range of information or understanding
  31. LOVE - strong affection for someone or thing
  32. MAJESTIC - grand or stately
  33. MORALITY - rightness or wrongness of an act
  34. NATURAL - something normally produced or existing
  35. OWNERSHIP - belonging to oneself or itself
  36. PEACEFUL - free from disturbance
  37. PLEASURE - delight
  38. POETIC - displaying beauty or imaginative qualities
  39. POSITIVE - explicit, confident
  40. POWER - ability to do or act
  41. PRISTINE - unspoiled
  42. RESOURCEFUL - able to deal effectively with problems
  43. SELF-CONTROL - ability to deal with situations alone
  44. SELF-FULFILLED - bringing about one's personal goal
  45. SELF-PRESERVATION - ability to survive alone
  46. SPIRITUAL - something felt internally
  47. STEWARDSHIP - responsibility to something
  48. UPSTANDING - honorable
  49. WILDNESS - living in a natural state
  50. WISDOM - behavior showing good judgement

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