Landowner and Agency Perceptions of Voluntary Conservation Programs in the Great Plains

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Private landowners are a key partner to protect endangered species in the Great Plains but fear of the Endangered Species Act’s regulatory provisions and working with government make this a challenge. Landowners can enroll in voluntary conservation programs to implement conservation practices on their property to protect wildlife while receiving benefits to participate. These program benefits come in the form of financial incentives, technical assistance and regulatory assurances. This study surveyed landowners and agency employees to understand their perceptions towards these programs to protect species on private land. The surveys revealed landowners and agency employees perceive these programs positively as important aspects of species conservation efforts but find administrative issues a hindrance to landowner participation and agency implementation. These administrative issues are caused by a lack of funding and staff dedicated to the management of these programs and reinforce the distrust many landowners have towards government. To mitigate these issues, this study recommends consistent and increased funding towards agencies managing these programs; implementing a package approach to streamline administration; consistent training of agency staff at the local, state and federal level; and safeguards to protect landowner privacy. Voluntary conservation programs are an essential aspect to protect endangered species on private property but need substantially increased funding and staff resources to reach their full potential.





Frediani, Virginia (2019). Landowner and Agency Perceptions of Voluntary Conservation Programs in the Great Plains. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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