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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: Rancher participation in conservation easements: Survey results from California

item Lubell, Mark
item Cutts, Bethany
item Hamilton, Matthew
item Jasny, Lorien
item Roche, Leslie
item O'geen, Anthony
item Eviner, Valerie
item Derner, Justin
item Kachergis, Emily
item Tate, Kenneth

Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/19/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The increasing role of conservation easements on rangelands in the western US makes it especially important to understand the drivers and/or barriers to rancher participation. A commonly held perception is that basic social values like views on private property rights and trust in government will influence decisions by ranchers to participate in conservation easements. We developed a mail survey instrument that asked a suite of questions on perception of conservation easement programs, level of participation in conservation programs, and the use of incentives for conservation programs. Following Dillman’s Tailored Design Method, we used a multi-contact approach to developing awareness of the survey, legitimacy among the sample, and incentives to complete and return the paper instrument. The survey was sent to 1725 members of the California Cattleman’s Association. Overall survey response rate was 31.8%. Only 10% of respondents currently participated in conservation easement programs. The Williamson Act Program (state program) and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service were the conservation programs most used. Although over 50% of respondents were aware of conservation easement programs, they had no plans to participate. Ranchers’ attitudes toward government strongly influenced this decision not to participate in conservation programs. Attitudes toward property rights were not a direct barrier to participation in conservation easements. These survey results highlight the disconnect between the availability of and on-the-ground participation in conservation easement programs for ranchers in California.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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