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Social Dilemmas and Public Range Management: Results from the Nevada Ranch Survey

Gerrit van Kooten, Roy Thomsen, Thomas Hobby and Alison Eagle

No 2003-08, Working Papers from University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group

Abstract: Since the late 1960s, the Nevada ranch community has come under increasing pressure from environmental groups regarding their use of public lands for livestock grazing, thus increasing tension between ranchers and public land managers and potentially reducing the social capital that facilitates action and cooperation in range management. In this paper, we use responses to a survey of all public grazing permit holders in Nevada to investigate the changing relationships between ranchers and the public land agencies, and its potential implications. In particular, we investigate factors that affect ranchers’ trust in the public land agencies, and then factors that influence the nature of the relationship between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Low levels of trust between ranchers and public managers were most significantly related to previous disagreements and the belief in a poor future for ranching. The occurrence of wildfire on grazing land contributed most signifcantly to increased disagreement between ranchers and public agencies. Finally, as a response to conflict in the ranch community, community based initiatives, such as grass banking, are examined for their potential to bring stakeholders together to realize and address common goals. Community involvement in decision making may increase levels of social capital, reduce transaction costs, and thus allow for more effective and efficient use of the range resources.

Keywords: Institutions and social capital; effectiveness of range management policies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O17 O52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 35 pages
Date: 2003
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