Property rights in a Canadian mountain ecosystem, the changing world of natural resource decision-making in the Arrow Lakes, British Columbia

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Stevens, Greg.
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This practicum presents the results of property rights research conducted during the spring and summer of 1995 in the Arrow Lakes Valley of Interior British Columbia, Canada. The general purpose of the research was to document how decision-making authority over natural resources was distributed among stakeholders in a mountainous region in Canada. The specific objectives of this study were to: identify and describe natural resource uses in the Upper Arrow Lakes Valley; identify the stakeholders to these resources; describe the distribution of decision-making authority over them; identify instances of shared or overlapping decision authority; and derive recommendations for the inclusion of multiple property rights into natural resources decision-making in the area. Fieldwork was based on an iterative use of semi-structured interviews, ongoing literature review, two site visits, non-parametric data analysis, field observations and a structured community survey. A variety of social science and rapid appraisal techniques were used to cross reference and triangulate research findings and a case study of the wild mushroom harvest was used to exemplify and direct the use of property rights analysis in resource management decision-making. It was determined that all rights over natural resources were based primarily on state and/or private property control, several of the resource types demonstrate common property-like characteristics and one resource (wild mushrooms) was described as an open access resource. Conclusions establish that the tradition of managing state property for single purpose uses is being challenged by growing multi-stakeholder involvement and demand for shared decision authority, at all levels of resource use. The detailed analysis of property right characteristics suggests that local resource users in the area of study have poorly articulated but growing input into decision-making processes. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)