Evaluation of Landowner Perceptions of Participating in Conservation Easements in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River Watersheds: Motivators and Barriers
Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
Committee Member/Second Reader
Conservation easements (CEs) are an effective way to protect natural resources with minimal impact on the daily activities of landowners (LOs), but there is still resistance to CE adoption among landowners in Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma. Therefore, there is a need to characterize LOs’ perceptions of CEs in these regions and adjust easement organization programming accordingly. This study followed a non-experimental, exploratory survey research design to gather information regarding demographics, awareness, attitudes, and preferences of LOs in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River watersheds. Likert-scale survey responses were assigned numerical values and averaged to find Pearson correlation coefficients between variables of interest. Descriptive statistics were used to provide an overview of survey responses. Seventy-seven LO responses were analyzed, finding that while attitudes towards conservation easements are generally positive, awareness of specific CE organizations is low, and misconceptions may exist regarding perceived disincentives of CEs. Survey results indicated that as awareness of CE programs increases, perceived CE risks decreases, suggesting a need for clear and comprehensive CE information to be easily accessible to LOs to encourage CE adoption. Also indicated in survey results was the relative importance of “shared interest” motivators relating to conservation and technical assistance over “self-interest” financial motivators such as tax reduction or payments. Additionally, there were observed differences in CE perceptions depending on LO demographics, suggesting easement organizations may need to adjust CE programming depending on the LO population of interest.
Conservation easement, private land conservation, landowner perception, Beaver Lake Watershed, Illinois River Watershed
Gwaltney, L. (2023). Evaluation of Landowner Perceptions of Participating in Conservation Easements in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River Watersheds: Motivators and Barriers. Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/csesuht/36