Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Can Incentives Help Overcome Landowner Concerns About Endangered Species Critical Habitat? A Rancher Case Study from the Southwestern United States

June 2013 - August 2016


Participating Agencies

  • USGS

We were interested in if payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs can encourage ranchers to conserve threatened and endangered (T&E) species on private land. Harboring threatened or endangered species on private land can introduce regulatory burden according to landowners because of implications from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Because of landowners’ apprehension, PES programs likely have to be uniquely designed to address these concerns about additional regulation or possible loss of autonomy to make decisions for their operation. We used three methods to assess the interest of ranchers in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico in participating in PES programs for T&E species’ conservation, and to determine what specific considerations need to be included in the design of such a program. Participants were generally interested in hypothetical programs for T&E species’ conservation. Results demonstrated that the funding source for the program is important, programs must result in a net benefit to landowners, and regulatory assurances must be provided to landowners and their neighbors. These results are useful during preliminary stages of designing a PES program in the region of study, recognizing that further investigation into landowner preferences will be needed. Our approach is also a model for how other regions can evaluate stakeholder preferences before the initiating PES program design. This work was presented in a thesis and is being submitted for publication.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Svancara, C. M. 2015. Human dimensions of endangered species conservation: Southwestern ranchers’ concerns about jaguar (Panthera onca) critical habitat designation and interest in conservation incentives. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. August 2015