Date of Award

Spring 2010

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

John M Halstead


The Lamprey River Watershed is an important part of the Great Bay Estuary in southeastern New Hampshire. The region has experienced population growth, sprawl development, increased vehicle miles traveled, increased levels of air and water pollution, loss of critical habitat, and loss of sense of community. The Lamprey River Watershed Resident Survey was designed to bring attention to environmental and community issues in order to engage residents in long range, innovative, and regional planning. The survey was distributed to approximately 3,000 households in one mailing during National Community Planning Month, October, 2007. The data from the 768 respondents provide baseline information on residents' attitudes, opinions, knowledge, and behavior relevant to planning.

Social capital is examined to test for its use in community and environmental planning. Social capital is measured in the Resident Survey from information about both formal and informal social activities as well as measures of trust in various parts of society. The results of a binomial logistic regression indicate that social capital, in the forms of these selected activities and trust, increases the likelihood of a resident to support a policy of open space design (an innovative land use policy in New Hampshire). Other variables found to be related to support for open space design are positive environmental behavior, liberal and moderate political affiliations, and education beyond high school. The measurement of social capital might be simplified by assessing social activities and social trust, and research should continue to examine relationships to community level outcomes.

Both the descriptive and regression results lead to a conclusion that engagement with residents is important to garner support for community planning outcomes. This study shows that increasing levels of social activities, social trust, and positive environmental behavior lead to a greater likelihood to support open space design. Planners should work to increase social activities and trust in the community, as well as to continue to encourage positive environmental behavior. A resident survey can help planners with this task of monitoring progress in planning efforts.