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Social/Decision Making Characteristics of Landowners/Operators in Hurricane Creek Pilot Watershed IDNR C2000 Project: Embarras River 008-00 Godson C.Obia.

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Presentation on theme: "Social/Decision Making Characteristics of Landowners/Operators in Hurricane Creek Pilot Watershed IDNR C2000 Project: Embarras River 008-00 Godson C.Obia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social/Decision Making Characteristics of Landowners/Operators in Hurricane Creek Pilot Watershed IDNR C2000 Project: Embarras River Godson C.Obia and Vincent P. Gutowski Department of Geology/Geography Eastern Illinois University

2 Acknowledgements We wish to thank: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources for giving us the opportunity to assist landowners in east-central Illinois. The C2000 Program provided funding and Doug Austin, Dave Day and Paula Martel gave significant guidance and support. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois C-U. Ms. Karyn McDermaid, Sergio Cristancho and Melinda Merrick conducted a thorough survey of landowner attitudes and opinions. Members of the Hurricane Creek Planning Committee who gave valuable suggestions.

3 Abstract The purpose of this study was to identify landowner conservation attitudes as part of an effort to assist the Hurricane Creek Pilot Watershed Planning Committee. The Pilot Watershed Program required a watershed management plan to be developed by each of the four Pilot Watersheds in the state. As part of the planning efforts, a mail survey conducted during the fall of 2001 was designed to: > educate landowners about planning efforts in the watershed > provide landowners an opportunity to participate > establish baseline resource concerns and conservation attitudes > determine landowner opinions about a hypothetical watershed management plan > determine factors that might influence plan participation

4 The mean response to the survey indicated perceived moderate to serious problems of loss of family farms, eroding of riverbanks, soil erosion, invasive weed growth, and the lack of conservation funding. The survey identified wildlife habitat, prairies and grasslands, forests/woodlands, floodplains, and rivers/streams as the desired land cover in the watershed. Survey results showed a positive relationship between environmental problems and the need for comprehensive planning. An interesting result of the survey was that the ranking of environmental concerns differed between landowners polled at an open meeting in 1998 and those that responded to a mail survey in 2001.


6 Introduction The Pilot Watershed Program is a joint effort of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program is designed to provide integration of information and simplify delivery of watershed conservation programs to Illinois landowners. A significant part of the Pilot Watershed Program was planning, data gathering and production of watershed management plans for each of the four watersheds in the state that were selected to participate in the Pilot program. Hopefully, the Pilot Watershed Program will produce documented benefits and improve watershed management methodologies.

7 Landowner concerns from an open Pilot Watershed meeting in Flooding 2. Erosion Control (structures) 3. Log jams and obstructions 4. Scour erosion 5. Streambank erosion 6. Future development 7. Increased incentives to retire marginal land 8. Channel capacity maintenance 9. Water quality 10. Wildlife habitat preservation 11. Sediment deposits 12. Rural water supply and quality 13. Loss of natural character 14. Endangered species (impact on projects) 15. Drainage 16. Private property rights 17. Wetlands 18. Wildlife (destruction to private property)

8 Landowner's and their Concerns In January of 1999, scientists and conservation agency personnel met at a Pilot Watershed Retreat. One topic covered was the lack of knowledge about the opinions and attitudes of landholders and how their attitudes affect their behavior in regards to land stewardship activities. Issues identified included: methods of identifying various interest groups; identifying landowner groups who would be most (and least) interested in applying conservations practices; and, determining which practices were most acceptable to landowners in selected areas. In 2001 a comprehensive questionnaire survey was mailed to landowners in the watershed. This survey of landowner's attitudes and opinions was developed and conducted under the supervision of Ms. Karyn McDermaid, a Senior Research Specialist in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

9 Landowner types responding to the 2001 conservation attitude/opinion survey. Landowner Type Percent Responding Landowner/farm operator37.5 Absentee Landowner27.5 Tenant farm operator 3.8 Landowner/farm operator/tenant farm operator 11.3 Non-farm landowner 14.4 Other 3.8 Two major landowner types responded to the survey, landowner/farm operators (38%) and absentee landowners (28%). Analysis of Variance results showed no statistical differences (p>0.05) among the responding groups, while the responses of absentee landowners, compared to those of non-absentee landowners, showed no significant differences (t 147=-1.24; p>.05) (McDermaid, 2002).

10 In the survey, an opportunity was given for landowners to provide, in an open question format, what they felt were important concerns in the watershed. The results are rank-order listed below. Once again, erosion and flooding are among the top issues, however productivity appears as a concern. Concerns Number Responding 1. Erosion65 2. Productivity29 3. Flooding/drainage issues28 4. Wildlife conservation26 5. Conservation in general12 6. Water quality 7 7. Finances 6 8. Stream bank control 5 9. Government interventions 5 Landowner concerns from open questions in the 2001 conservation attitude/opinion survey.

11 In addition to the opportunity to volunteer concerns in an open question format, survey participants were asked to rank 27 pre- selected concerns according to whether they were perceived as a serious, moderate, light or no problem in the watershed. Using this method, flooding was viewed as less of a problem than in the other surveys, soil erosion problems still ranked high, and loss of family farms appeared for the first time, and as the primary serious concern to landowners.

12 Concerns ranked from questionnaire selections in 2001 conservation attitude/opinion survey.

13 Attitudinal Responses Another part of the survey dealt with attitudes and opinions dealing with a variety of conservation topics in general. Overall, the landowners had a positive view of conservation and best management practices. The vast majority of respondents believed they should leave the land and water in better shape than when they acquired it. They also had positive attitudes towards floodplain land conservation and management.

14 Landowner attitudes and opinions on conservation topics.

15 Economic and Environmental Attitudes Five questions were asked that provided respondents an opportunity to present their attitudes towards the relationship between economic and environmental factors. Overall, landowners felt that a healthy economy depends on a healthy environment, and that the environment should not be degraded for economic gains. However, most felt that cost is an important consideration when making conservation decisions

16 Economic/environmental attitudes of landowners.

17 Land Cover Types Desired in the Watershed Landowners had an opportunity to indicate the types of land cover they preferred within the Hurricane Creek Watershed. Overall, they were satisfied with the current land cover, but would like to see a bit more prairies/grasslands and wildlife habitat in general. The greatest response was for less rural residential development.

18 Land cover types desired in the watershed.

19 Factors Influencing Watershed Plan Adoption One part of the survey was dedicated to having respondents indicate which factors would influence them to participate in a hypothetical watershed management plan. Generally, landowners were most interested in the ability of the plan to reduce soil erosion and flooding, while at the same time improve water quality, and wildlife habitat. They were also concerned about the amount of cost share available. Overall, nearly 40% indicated they would participate in a similar plan, while approximately the same amount said more information was needed (McDermaid, 2002).

20 Factors influencing decisions to participate in a hypothetical watershed management plan.

21 Perceived Impacts of a Watershed Plan When asked about the impacts a watershed plan would have on the major identified concerns of landowners, agencies and the planning committee, the replies were generally positive. They felt it would increase the attractiveness, quality of life and pride in the watershed, improve drinking water quality and wildlife populations, while reducing problems with flooding, erosion and chemicals in the streams. Respondents felt the plan would have little effects on recreation and economic growth.

22 Perceived impacts of a hypothetical watershed plan.

23 Cost Share Attitudes A section of the plan that asked about the amount of cost share it would take to participate in conservation practices provides interesting information. The mean response indicated it would take approximately 80% cost share for participation. The 80% level received more responses than the 85%, 90%, or 95% level. Most said 100% cost share was needed for conservation implementation. Percentages most preferred were those that landowners were familiar with (50%, 75%, 80%), while other figures (85%, 95%), even with a higher cost share, had fewer responses. Although not a part of the survey, conversations with landowner/operators indicate continuous payments seem to be the best incentive for conservation implementation.

24 Percent cost-share desired by landowners.

25 Conclusions It appears that the survey had a good response rate of 37%. Resource concerns at the initial open Pilot Watershed meeting were, for the most part, reflected in the responses to open questions and selections provided in the survey. Landowners seemed to have a positive attitude towards land stewardship and were willing to assist in conservation efforts outlined in a hypothetical watershed management plan. A minimum of 80% cost share would be necessary for participation. There is a need for dissemination of information and educational opportunities by agency personnel, and increasing knowledge about watershed issues may increase participation in conservation implementation.

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