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Patricia Norris - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Patricia Norris Patricia Norris

Guyer Seevers Chair in Natural Resource Conservation | Michigan State University


An expert in water resources, natural resource conservation, environmental and natural resource governance.





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Professor Pat Norris is appointed in the tenure system and is the Guyers-Seevers Chair in Natural Resource Conservation at Michigan State University. She has conducted research and developed outreach programs addressing issues in soil conservation, water quality, groundwater management, wetland policy, land markets, land use conflicts and farmland preservation.

In her extension work, she has focused largely upon natural resource policy issues, working with private resource owners, local governments, and state and federal agencies as they address the needs for and impacts of institutional change. In addition, her teaching responsibilities have included courses in natural resource economics, environmental economics, ecological economics, environmental science, and agricultural policy.

Industry Expertise (4)

Environmental Services

Writing and Editing


Agriculture and Farming

Areas of Expertise (3)

Agricultural Policy

Natural Resource Economics

Environmental Economics

Education (3)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Ph.D.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: M.S.

University of Georgia: B.S.

Journal Articles (5)

Gauging concerns about climate change in Great Lakes coastal communities Journal of Great Lakes Research

Brockton C Feltman, Patricia E Norris, Jessica L Batanian


Concerns about climate change among the U.S. population increasingly mirror those of the scientific community. Yet, beliefs and levels of concern vary across different regions of the country. Because geographic locations are being affected by climate change in distinct ways, citizens in more vulnerable locations will likely express greater concern about climate change than individuals whose localities are less likely to have been noticeably affected to date. Using data from a survey of residents in the Grand Traverse Bay region of Michigan and the “Six Americas of Global Warming” audience segmentation tool developed by Maibach el al. (2011), we found that residents in the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed, a coastal region predicted to be especially vulnerable to climate change, express a greater degree of concern about climate change than do residents of the U.S. more generally. Also, using ordinal regression, we found participation in outdoor recreation, as well as demographic variables including gender, education, income and age are predictors of concern about climate change as measured by placement in a Six Americas segment.

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Private rights, public interests and water use conflicts: evolving water law and policy in Michigan Water Policy

Mathew C Lautenberger, Patricia E Norris


Water conflicts are rare across Michigan's history. As a result, water rights have received little attention by courts or the legislature. Traditionally, the common law of water rights in Michigan embraces the riparian doctrine for surface water and provides landowners with the right to use groundwater. However, two recent changes in common and statutory law significantly modify the legal relations among water users and others with a stake in water use decisions. A 2005 Michigan Court of Appeals decision created a new legal relation among riparian and groundwater rights holders. In 2008, Michigan's legislature passed laws aimed at regulating surface water and groundwater withdrawals. As an exercise of police power intended to protect public rights in water and associated environmental quality, the 2008 laws cap total water withdrawals. This program of restricting water withdrawals coexists with the state's common law which provides for reasonable use of surface water by riparian landowners and groundwater by owners of the overlying land. The result is a new set of legal relations, an uncertain legal environment, and a growing likelihood of water use conflicts. Because Michigan's body of water law is unique, neither courts nor legislature can rely on solutions used in other states.

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Managing the wicked problem of trandisciplinary team formation in socio-ecological systems Landscape and Urban Planning

Patricia Norris, Michael O'Rourke, Alex Mayer, Kathleen Halvorsen


Transdisciplinary teams are called upon to research and resolve problems associated with socio-ecological systems, which are notoriously wicked. We propose that the formation of these teams is itself a wicked problem. We support this claim by identifying in transdisciplinary team formation characteristics from Rittel and Weber's (1973) list of wicked problem attributes. We recommend a set of strategies for managing the wickedness of team formation, drawn from our experience in forming teams to conduct research on socio-ecological systems and the team formation literature.

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Exploring market-based environmental policy for groundwater management and ecosystem protection for the Great Lakes region: Lessons learned Journal of Great Lakes Research

Saichon Seedang, Patricia E Norris, Sandra S Batie, Michael D Kaplowitz


The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (the Compact) was created to protect future water supplies and aquatic ecosystems in the Great Lakes. The Compact requires the eight Great Lakes state to regulate, among other things, large withdrawals of groundwater and surface water so that they do not negatively affect stream flows and ecosystems within the Great Lakes Basin. Thus, the Compact raises the possibility of increased restrictions on groundwater withdrawals in many locations throughout the Great Lakes region. However, restricting withdrawals is likely to encounter opposition from water users when such restrictions are viewed as an infringement on existing water use rights and/or as negatively impacting local economic development. Such conflicts could hinder effective implementation of state and regional water policy. This paper explores the application of a market-based environmental management tool called “Conservation Credit Offsets Trading (CCOT)” that could facilitate allocation of groundwater withdrawals, and develops a framework for guiding the implementation of CCOT within the context of a groundwater permitting system. Using a watershed in southwestern Michigan, this study demonstrates how bio-physical information and input from various local stakeholders were combined to aid groundwater policy designed to achieve the objective of no net (adverse) impact on stream ecosystems. By allowing flexibility through trading of conservation credit offsets, this groundwater policy tool appears to be more politically acceptable than traditional, less flexible, regulations. The results and discussion provide useful lessons learned with relevance to other areas in the Great Lakes Basin.

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Voter decisions on eminent domain and police power reforms Kwami Adanu, John P Hoehn, Patricia Norris, Emma Iglesias

Journal of Housing Economics


One unresolved issue arising from the use of eminent domain power involves how the perceived benefits and costs of eminent domain power affect people’s positions on the reform of eminent domain and police power law. The paper addresses this issue by estimating a voting model that explains voters’ decisions on eminent domain and police power reform referenda in the US. Estimates indicate that eminent domain referendum outcomes hinged on voters’ fundamental values and ideology, and voters’ immediate self-interest. Voters’ fundamental values and ideology affects referendum outcomes insofar as educational attainment in a county has a statistically significant effect on support for reform. Despite the greater incidence of eminent domain in low income and poorer communities, success of reform referenda in this study was found to be greater in counties with higher incomes and lower unemployment rates. This implies that whatever asymmetry exists in the exercise of eminent domain law across income groups does not affect voter reaction to eminent domain reforms. Moreover, counties with high unemployment rates consider the larger potential benefits from urban renewal projects in vote decision-making providing a link between self-interest and voting behavior.

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