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2 July 2019 Influence of Ecosystem Services on Management Decisions by Public Land Ranchers in the Intermountain West, United States
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Abstract

Ecosystem services are benefits humans obtain as a result of ecosystem processes and conditions. In the western United States, public rangelands are managed for a spectrum of ecosystem services on behalf of multiple stakeholders. Decisions of ranchers who hold public land grazing allotments must balance operational needs for forage with societal expectations for other ecosystem services. To better understand their choices regarding ecosystem services, we interviewed ranchers to learn about the bases for their management decisions and identify services they believe rangelands provide. A total of 19 services were identified, many of which reflected ranchers' recognition that they manage within the context of a broader social-ecological system (e.g., maintaining open space). We then conducted a mail survey of Bureau of Land Management grazing permittees in six states to understand the importance they personally place on different services, as well as the extent to which they manage with those services in mind. Fourteen of the 19 ecosystem services identified in interviews were reported by at least 50% of the survey sample (N = 435) as influencing their management decisions. Most respondents reported trying to manage deeded and leased land to the same standard. Aside from forage for livestock (ranked #1), ranchers were less likely to report managing for provisioning services than for cultural, supporting, and regulating services. Importance ratings for ecosystem services followed a similar pattern, although there were a few differences in rank order. Ranchers tended to report managing for more ecosystem services if they had larger operations, earned at least 50% of their income from ranching, spent more time out on the ranch, and relied on multiple sources for information about range management. Results indicate public land ranchers believe they are managing for multifunctionality, balancing their own operational needs with those of society.

© 2019 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Elisabeth C. York, Mark W. Brunson, and Kristin B. Hulvey "Influence of Ecosystem Services on Management Decisions by Public Land Ranchers in the Intermountain West, United States," Rangeland Ecology and Management 72(4), 721-728, (2 July 2019). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2019.02.002
Received: 9 January 2018; Accepted: 5 February 2019; Published: 2 July 2019
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