Northeastern Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (12–14 March 2007)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 11:35 AM


FOWLER, Brian K., NH Geologic Resources Advisory Committee, NH Department of Environmental Services, Fowler Management Resources, 67 Water Street - Suite 105, Laconia, NH 03246-3300,

Geological surveys often find themselves between the political factions of important environmental debates. While they want their role to be strictly objective in providing needed information or specialized data-gathering, they often find themselves cast instead as supporting, or at least leaning toward, one side or the other. Navigating such political situations is risky for surveys, because both their scientific objectivity and the security of their funding is threatened if the survey's participation is mishandled.

Today, surveys are confronted by a public generally distrustful and frustrated with what it sees as science's inability to provide simple solutions to environmental problems. This has led to an important loss of credibility for the scientific process and a pervasive anti-intellectualism that seriously challenges the future of our surveys. This trend must be overcome if proper programming priorities are to be established and adequately funded, and indeed, if surveys are to survive as responsibly objective representatives of the public and the environment. Carefully managed programs of public involvement in survey programming that anticipate such debates is the way to reverse this trend and to keeping the surveys' public perception profiles above positional politics and the budget impacts that usually accompanies them.