Environmental problems are difficult to solve because their causes and effects are not easily understood. When attempts are made to analyze causes and effects, the principal challenge is organization of information into a framework that is logical, technically defensible, and easy to understand and communicate. When decisionmakers attempt to solve complex problems before an adequate cause and effect analysis is performed there are serious risks. These risks include: greater reliance on subjective reasoning, lessened chance for scoping an effective problem solving approach, impaired recognition of the need for supplemental information to attain understanding, increased chance for making unsound decisions, and lessened chance for gaining approval and financial support for a program/
Cause and effect relationships can be modeled. This type of modeling has been applied to various environmental problems, including cumulative impact assessment (Dames and Moore 1981; Meehan and Weber 1985; Williamson et al. 1987; Raley et al. 1988) and evaluation of effects of quarrying (Sheate 1986). This guidance for field users was written because of the current interest in documenting cause-effect logic as a part of ecological problem solving. Principal literature sources relating to the modeling approach are: Riggs and Inouye (1975a, b), Erickson (1981), and United States Office of Personnel Management (1986).