This paper analyzes rancher participation in conservation programs in the context of a social-ecological framework for adaptive rangeland decision-making. We argue that conservation programs are best understood as one of many strategies of adaptively managing rangelands in ways that sustain livelihoods and ecosystem services. The framework hypothesizes four categories of variables affecting conservation program participation: operation/operator characteristics, time horizon, social network connections, and social values. Based on a mail survey of California ranchers, multinomial logit models are used to estimate the impact of these variables on different levels of rancher involvement in conservation programs. The findings suggest that ranchers with larger amounts of land, an orientation towards the future, and who are opinion leaders with access to conservation information, are more likely to participate in conservation programs.
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