Landowners' Responses to an Endangered Species Act Listing and Implications for Encouraging Conservation

School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Conservation Biology (Impact Factor: 4.17). 12/2003; 17(6):1638-1649. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2003.00258.x


Private landowners manage many rare species' habitats, yet research on their responses to species conservation legislation is scarce. To address this need, we examined private landowners' responses to the listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). We mailed a questionnaire designed to measure these responses to a sample of landowners. The adjusted response rate was 46% (n =379). The questionnaire asked landowners whether they had managed their land to improve the Preble's habitat and to minimize the chance of the Preble's living on it. We also asked whether landowners had or would allow a survey for the Preble's on their property. We hypothesized that landowners would respond to these questions based on their aesthetic preferences, economic concerns, information sources, parcel size, personal values, recreation activities, residence status, social influences, and other factors. Listing the Preble's under the ESA does not appear to have enhanced its survival prospects on private land. In terms of hectares owned, for example, the efforts of landowners who reported they had sought to help the Preble's (25%) were canceled out by the efforts of those who sought to harm it (26%). Moreover, the majority of respondents had not or would not allow a biological survey (56%), thus preventing the collection of data for conserving the species. All eight hypothesized determinants significantly predicted responses to the listing when they were considered individually. When considered simultaneously, however, only one economic consideration (dependence on agriculture), recreation activity (consumptive), and social factor (distrusting government), and select information sources (conservation and social), and personal values (valuing nature, valuing local control, and denying landowner responsibility) remained direct determinants. To promote the conservation of rare species by private landowners, we recommend communicating information through social networks, alleviating landowners' economic concerns, increasing use of collaborative processes, and institutionalizing assurances that landowners will not be harmed by managing their land to help rare species.

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Available from: Raymond K De Young, Dec 30, 2013
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    • "Although there is concern that the threat of ESA listings may lead landowners to destroy habitat to prevent increased regulation (Bean and Wilcove, 1997), landowner responses to listings have rarely been studied. One study shows that after listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) in 1998, landowners were split about their willingness to manage for conservation and were less likely to allow monitoring (Brook et al., 2003). Our study expands prior analyses to explore how a listing decision may impact land and water sales, as well as conservation actions. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Gunnison sage-grouse (GUSG) is an iconic species recently proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In Colorado’s Upper Gunnison River Basin, ranchers own the majority of water rights and productive river bottoms as well as approximately 30% of the most important GUSG habitat. This project used mixed-methods interviews with 41 ranch owners to document how ranchers perceive the proposed ESA listing and how they plan to respond to a listing decision. Results show that ranchers support on-the-ground GUSG conservation but are concerned about listing implications. Ranchers are most concerned about their ability to manage public and private lands productively and continue permitted grazing on public lands. If the species is listed, landowners plan to decrease participation in conservation strategies, including plans to adopt conservation easements, participation in conservation programs, and willingness to allow access to private lands for GUSG monitoring. Landowners also express plans for increased sales of land and water, which could have negative consequences for GUSG habitat. This research suggests that changes in the application of the ESA could lead to beneficial conservation outcomes. These changes include increased transparency, ability to exclude stable populations from listing under the ESA, and commitment to work with local bodies if the species is listed. This project demonstrates the importance of qualitative research for understanding the indirect and unintended effects of species protections in an increasingly interconnected world.
    Rangeland Ecology & Management 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.rama.2015.08.003 · 1.44 Impact Factor
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    • "Conserving species on private lands requires encouragement of individual landowners to adopt biodiversity-friendly land management practices (Langpap 2004). Such efforts have achieved varying levels of success, with positive results hinging on the landowners' interest in managing their land for the benefit of native species (Brook et al. 2003 "
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    ABSTRACT: For over a century the foundation of biological conservation has been the development of open space networks either through outright public land acquisition or appropriate management of private lands. Because both approaches come with significant trade-offs, it is critical to understand which species are found across various land ownership types so that policy tools and management actions can efficiently be targeted to do the most good. In this paper, presence-only biological data were used to create species distribution maps for 18 imperilled forest bird species that breed within the deciduous forests of New Jersey (USA). These maps, combined with publicly available, spatially explicit information on land ownership, document who owns the habitat relied on by each of these 18 species. There were significant variations in both species-and guild-specific reliance on public versus private lands, with the latter preferentially supporting nearly twice as many species as the former. Subcategories of land ownership provided support for the role of both state-owned forests and privately-owned agricultural lands in forest bird conservation; however, each landownership type supports a distinct set of species. While explicitly recognizing the need to employ diverse conservation strategies, the approach provides a solid framework for structuring forest conservation planning and policy at regional scales.
    Environmental Conservation 02/2015; 42. DOI:10.1017/S0376892915000041 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    • "This approach has proven effective at increasing adoption of new conservation behaviors (Muth and Hendee, 1980; Finley and Jacobson, 2001; Allred et al., 2011). New landowners in particular may favor conservation information delivered through peers and personal networks rather than from professionals (West et al., 1988; Jacobson, 2002; Brook et al., 2003; Kendra and Hull, 2005; Rickenbach et al., 2005; Gootee et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Personal networks affect the flow information and behavior through social groups. We investigated the role of personal relationships in the flow of information and adoption of sustainable forest management behavior by private forest landowners. Among the 1767 owners of 20 or more acres of Minnesota forest land surveyed, 90% have received forestry information from at least one source including 65% from a peer and 53% from a professional forester. Forestry information personal network size ranged from 0 to 14 with a mean of 2.92. Network diversity, expressed as the number of different types of information sources within the network, was relatively high relative to network size, suggesting that most landowners value diverse perspectives, despite reporting fairly small networks. Larger acreage owners, management plan holders, and frequent visitors to their forest land had significantly larger and more diverse networks. Network size and diversity were statistically unrelated to ownership tenure, landowner age, and resident/absentee status. Significantly more respondents named a peer or a professional as their most helpful source than other source categories. Satisfaction with forestry information networks was positively associated with network size and diversity, further suggesting that landowners prefer information from a variety of different sources. The results suggest that landowner education designed to foster peer learning and relationship building between landowners, foresters, loggers, and other groups may promote adoption of sustainable forest management practices.
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