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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: Conservation program participation and adaptive rangeland decision-making

item Lubell, Mark
item Cutts, Bethany
item Roche, Leslie
item Hamilton, Mark
item Derner, Justin
item Kachergis, Emily
item Tate, Kenneth

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2013
Publication Date: 11/1/2013
Publication URL:
Citation: Lubell, M.N., Cutts, B.B., Roche, L.M., Hamilton, M., Derner, J.D., Kachergis, E.J., Tate, K.W. 2013. Conservation program participation and adaptive rangeland decision-making. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 66:609-620.

Interpretive Summary: Human dimensions and interactions with ecology (social-ecological aspects) on rangelands have been poorly studied, yet represent core foundations of adaptive management where decision-making occurs with defined economic and ecological outcomes in the context of management goals and capacity of the land manager, management strategies and practices, and individual values. In addition, this occurs over time with learning and adaptation using feedback usually from monitoring. Here, we evaluated, through the use of an extensive survey of over 500 California ranchers, decision-making aspects of rancher participation in conservation programs. Three main characteristics of rancher participation were: amount of private land owned (larger landowners more likely to participate), forward-looking (future-oriented focus) and connections to social networks with local organizations (opinion leaders).

Technical Abstract: This paper analyzes rancher participation in conservation programs in the context of a social-ecological framework for adaptive rangeland management. We argue that conservation programs are best understood as one of many strategies of adaptively managing rangelands in ways that sustain livelihoods and ecosystem services. Based on this framework, we hypothesize four categories of variables affecting conservation program participation: operation/operator characteristics, time horizon, social network connections, and social values. Based on a mail survey of California ranchers, multinomial logit models are used to estimate the impact of these different variables on different levels of rancher involvement in conservation programs. The findings suggest that ranchers with larger amounts of land, an orientation towards the future, and who are opinion leaders with access to conservation information, are more likely to participate in conservation programs.

Last Modified: 07/27/2017
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