Landowners' perceptions on coordinated wildlife and groundwater management in the Edwards Plateau
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Since Texas contains less than 5% public land, private landowners are critical to the success of environmental management initiatives in the state. This has implications for resources that traverse property boundaries, such as wildlife and groundwater. Texas landowners are increasingly capitalizing on the income potential of fee-based hunting, and many have banded together to form Wildlife Management Associations (WMAs). Not only can such landowner associations enhance the coordination of resource management decisions, they also have the potential to increase social capital, which is reflected by interpersonal trust, reciprocity and civic participation. To improve the management of common-pool resources it is important to understand the relationship between social capital and coordinated resource management because long-term community stability and resource sustainability appear to be highly correlated. A 600-landowner mail survey (with 48.1% response) was conducted in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas to compare the land management characteristics and social capital of landowners who are members of WMAs with non-member landowners. The goal of this research was to determine how WMA membership, property size, and location affect levels of social capital and interest in cooperative resource management. It was hypothesized that members, large landowners, and northern landowners would be more interested in cooperative management and exhibit higher social capital. While WMA members and large-property owners were more involved in wildlife management than non-members and small-property owners, this interest in resource management did not carry over to groundwater. These groups were not more involved in groundwater management activities, and all survey groups were disinterested in joining private cooperatives for groundwater marketing. Social capital differences were more evident between large- and small-property owners than between WMA members and non-members. Members scored higher only on community involvement, while large owners scored higher on community involvement as well as trust. These results suggest that WMA membership per se does not significantly increase social capital among Edwards Plateau landowners, but do not necessarily refute the importance of social capital within WMAs. Differences in trust between members were positively correlated with increased communication and meeting frequency, suggesting ways WMAs can improve intra-association social capital.
Limesand, Craig Milton (2006). Landowners' perceptions on coordinated wildlife and groundwater management in the Edwards Plateau. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from