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Rancher Preferences for a Payment for Ecosystem Services Program in Southwestern Wyoming

Kristiana Hansen, Esther Duke, Craig Bond, Melanie Purcell and Ginger Paige

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 146, issue C, 240-249

Abstract: The Upper Green River Basin in southwestern Wyoming provides critical habitat for many species with ecological and recreational significance, including mule deer and greater sage grouse. A recent energy boom has increased economic opportunities in the region but has also placed development pressures on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ranchers in the basin place high importance on good stewardship of land and water resources and are amenable to providing ecosystem services on their land in exchange for additional revenue. We conduct a rancher survey in the region to elicit preferences on program design for a voluntary “Payment for Ecosystem Services” program focused on maintaining or enhancing high-quality wildlife habitat and hydrologic services. Choice experiment results indicate management practices that reduce ranch revenues require higher levels of compensation than those that do not. Ranchers report that target ecosystem service is more important to them than associated payment levels, though reservation prices tend to be high relative to land values. Overall, ranchers do not express a preference for shorter contract length but those planning to sell their ranch operations do. Fewer than 25% of ranchers are satisfied with current mitigation programs, suggesting room for improvement. Findings have been used to inform development of a market-based PES program in the region.

Keywords: Payment-for-ecosystem services; Choice experiments; Rancher survey; Wildlife habitat; Environmental markets; Conservation on private lands (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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