The regulation and management of wetlands is often contentious because wetlands share characteristics of both land, typically a private good, and water, typically treated as a public good. Landowners' desires to develop “their property” with wetlands tend to conflict with the public benefits associated with healthy, intact wetland ecosystems. To understand better how residents in the state of Michigan, USA understand and perceive wetlands, a statewide telephone survey was undertaken. The survey of 1012 Michigan residents revealed most people to be very familiar with wetlands and think it very important to protect them. Across demographic groups, at least 60 percent of respondents believe it to be very important that wetlands exist both now and in the future. Multiple regression analysis suggests that younger, better educated, and wealthier people place greater importance than others on wetland existence; the analysis also indicates that Republicans seem to value wetlands slightly less than Democrats and Independents. Interestingly, respondents' community type (e.g., rural, urban, suburban) appears to make relatively little difference on the importance of wetland existence.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2