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Determinants of Agricultural Landowners’ Willingness to Supply Open Space Through Conservation Easements

Ashley D. Miller, Christopher T. Bastian, Donald M. McLeod, Catherine M. Keske and Dana Hoag ()

No 6724, 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida from American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association)

Abstract: Open space provides a range of benefits to many people of a community, beyond the benefits that accrue to private landowners. Parks and natural areas can be used for recreation; wetlands and forests supply storm-water drainage and wildlife habitat; farms and forests provide aesthetic benefits to surrounding residents. Moreover, undeveloped land can give relief from congestion. Agricultural lands are an important source of open space, but many of these lands are under great development pressure. One tool that is currently being used to aid in the preservation of open space by landowners is conservation easements. The rate of land protection by state and local land trusts has tripled since the beginning of the decade, and the West is the fastest growing region for both the number of acres under conservation easements and number of land trusts according to the Land Trust Alliance. Given the increased demand for amenities provided by private agricultural lands and the increased use of conservation easements, it is interesting to note that there is a paucity of research related to landowners’ preferences regarding conservation easements. The specific research objective of this paper is to determine important factors affecting an agricultural landowners’ potential choice regarding the placement of a parcel of land under a conservation easement. Knowing these factors could be useful to communities, public organizations and land trusts trying to provide open space to meet a growing demand for this public good. Information to construct a survey was obtained through a series of focus groups held in Wyoming and Colorado. Results from these focus groups were then used to develop twelve versions of a stated choice survey instrument. The first part of the survey included questions about the landowner’s specific community. These Likert scale questions were to designed to elicit a measurement of the respondents’ “sense of place” regarding his or her community. The second part of the survey questioned participants about their land and their land’s attributes, including what the landowner felt his land was worth, types of production and non-production activities land was used for, the types of developmental pressures being felt by the landowner, and the kinds of amenities he would like to conserve on his property. The third section of the survey included questions about the landowner’s personal knowledge of easements and two stated choice questions regarding conservation easements. These stated choice questions focused on five attributes: contract length, managerial control, wildlife habitat, access and payment. The final section of the survey asked respondents about demographic characteristics. Data were analyzed as a multinomial logit random utility model in LIMDEP. Respondents preferred an easement that was in perpetuity over an easement that was term in length. Respondents were less likely to accept an easement if public access on their property was required. As payment proportion in relation to the respondents’ perception of the value of their land went up, so did the likelihood that they would accept the easement. Landowners in Colorado were more likely to accept an easement than landowners in Wyoming. This is somewhat expected as developmental pressures in Colorado are higher than Wyoming, and thus far more easements have been transacted in Colorado than in Wyoming. Years on the land and connection to community were significant in explaining the acceptance of an easement scenario. The more connected one was to their community, the more likely they were to accept an easement. The longer a respondent had lived on their land, the more likely they were to accept an easement as well. The level of education a respondent had achieved negatively impacted easement acceptance. If an easement was already in place on a respondents’ property, the likelihood of accepting an easement scenario increased significantly.

Keywords: Land; Economics/Use (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 25
Date: 2008
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-dcm
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.6724

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