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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Research Project #435109

Research Project: Socio-economic Assessment of Great Basin Livestock Production Systems

Location: Northwest Watershed Research Center

Project Number: 2052-13610-014-12-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 16, 2018
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

Objective:
Establish dominant socio-economic metrics for assessing long-term sustainability of livestock production and ecosystem services relevant to rural communities dependent upon Great Basin rangelands. Develop socio-economic framework for assessing barriers to adoption of adaptive livestock grazing production systems for cheatgrass-dominated rangelands.

Approach:
The scope of work for this project will consist of three methodologies: 1)scoping interviews with stakeholders, 2)survey design and implementation, and 3)participatory workshops. Scoping interviews – a standard, semi-structured procedure to collect qualitative data from a variety of purposively sampled subjects–will continue as an ongoing effort throughout the project, but be concentrated in Year 1, 3, and 4. An estimated 40-50 interviews will be completed (20-25 producers, 8-10 agency representatives, and 8-10 related stakeholders) in the study vicinity, then transcribed, coded, and analyzed for patterns related to development of the socio-economic framework. The survey will occur as a baseline effort (Year 2) as well as at longitudinal intervals planned for five-year assessment phases. The survey will target sub-samples of: a) livestock producers (N=75-100), b) non-producer stakeholders (N=50-75), and c) local citizenry (N=300-400) in order to develop comparative data points about risks to rangelands, risks to local livelihoods, and tradeoffs associated with changing ecological dynamics. The survey approach will use a drop-off/pick-up method proven most effective for natural resource-related issues in rural community environments and with specific sub-populations. Statistical analyses using regression and factor analysis techniques will comprise the primary approaches for analytical methods to process the survey data. A total of four participatory workshops will include preliminary efforts (two during Year 1 – Year 2) to engage producers and other stakeholders on social preferences and prioritization, as well as capstone efforts (two during Year 5) designed to integrate social and ecological data collected across the span of the project. Workshops will use integrative technologies to capture spatially-explicit aspects of producer/stakeholder concerns and realities as well as allow for analysis of scale mismatch concerns often evident within social science dimensions of natural resource projects. The following will be completed in Year one of the project:1.Develop list of stakeholders;2.Design and complete first scoping interviews of stakeholders;3.Design and complete first stakeholder participatory workshop;4.Compile first year’s data from interviews and workshop. In addition to continuing to address first year objectives above, the following objectives will be addressed in year two of the project:1.Draft and submit collaborative manuscript on social change processes and their influence on human well-being;2.Draft and submit collaborative manuscript on social impacts of regional cheatgrass invasion and associated challenges for landscape management;3.Continue ongoing efforts to engage stakeholders and develop strong customer relationships in support of the Great Basin LTAR efforts. In addition to completing objectives previously outlined, the following objectives are established for year three:1.Conduct follow-up surveys of Great Basin livestock producers to complete databases;2.Lead appropriate collaborative analysis and interpretation of Great Basin survey data;3.Complete manuscript on social impacts of regional cheatgrass invasion.