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Landowner and Practitioner Perspectives on Private Land Conservation Programs
- Lute, Michelle L., Gillespie, Caitlyn R., Martin, Dustin R., Fontaine, Joseph J.
- Society & natural resources 2018 v.31 no.2 pp. 218-231
- Conservation Reserve Program, USDA, agricultural policy, demographic statistics, ecosystem services, focus groups, grasslands, land management, landowners, landscapes, motivation, pollinators, private lands, surveys, wildlife, Nebraska
- Efforts to reverse declines in native grasslands benefit from agricultural policies that encourage private land conservation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) improved conservation across landscapes but enrollment has declined. We used sequential exploratory mixed methods to compare landowner and conservation practitioners’ perceptions, evaluate perceived benefits, and identify potential improvements to CRP. Focus groups of practitioners informed a quantitative survey of landowners who had properties >160 total acres in Nebraska. Results suggest potential misalignment in perceptions between practitioners and landowners. Practitioners were concerned that conservation, especially of wildlife, was secondary to profit. But the majority of landowners valued CRP-related ecosystem services, including native pollinators. Practitioners posited that younger landowners were primarily profit motivated, but CRP enrollment did not differ by demographics. Practitioners and landowners identified rule complexity as a major challenge and practitioner–landowner relationships as critical to success. Findings suggest that practitioners may underestimate non-economic motivations and illuminate opportunities to encourage private land conservation.