Relationships among landowner and land ownership characteristics and participation in conservation programs in central Texas



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Texas A&M University


Recent land ownership trends in Texas have created concerns for natural resource agencies throughout the state (Wilkins et al. 2000, 2003; Steinbach 2001, American Farmland Trust 2003). An increase in the number of small properties has been associated with drastic changes in management emphasis in many areas and has led to concerns regarding landscape and ecosystem-level processes. Additionally, these apparent changes in management emphasis have subsequently led to concerns regarding the effectiveness of traditional natural resource conservation programs for all types of landowners. In this study, I sought to quantify differences in landowner characteristics, attitudes, and motivations in the Leon River Watershed using an informant directed interview process (Holstein and Gubrium 1995). I contacted and interviewed 60 landowners in the 4 central Texas counties contained within the Leon River Watershed. I found that landowners in my study could be classified into 1 of 3 categories that represented distinct goals, attitudes and motivations regarding land ownership andagriculture and wildlife management. Born to the Land, Ag. Business, and Re-born to the Land owners each display strong ideals regarding the proper context of land management, extremely distinctive ethical attitudes regarding their role as stewards of their land, and identifiable differences in their willingness to participate in various natural resource conservation programs. Natural resource agencies and organizations will now have the ability to profile landowners as to their likelihood of participation in various types of programs and conservation initiatives. The findings of this study could lead to dramatic changes in the way landowners are viewed and dealt with by many natural resource professionals.