Wildlife and water: collective action and social capital of selected landowner associations in Texas
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In Texas, landowner associations for the management of common-pool resources such as wildlife and groundwater have become increasingly popular. Successful management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) depends upon the collective decision-making of landowners. Likewise, aquifer reserves are a trans-boundary resource subject to the "rule of capture." Numerous factors may affect the success of common-pool associations, including property ownership and habitat characteristics, landowner demographics, and social capital. I used a mail questionnaire to explore the relationship between these factors and their effect on association activities and management practices for eight Wildlife Management Associations (WMAs) occurring within the Lower Post Oak Savannah (LPOS) and the Central Post Oak Savannah (CPOS). In addition, I compared responses of members of WMAs in CPOS to members of the Brazos Valley Water Alliance (BVWA), a groundwater association situated in the region. Compared to CPOS, members of WMAs within the LPOS belonged to much larger groups, were generally more recent landowners that met more often, raised more money using more funding methods, and tended to have longer association membership than CPOS landowners, yet they had lower social capital. CPOS landowners owned significantly more land and considered relaxation/leisure and hunting more important land uses than LPOS landowners. The smaller group size in CPOS may be the most important factor in building social capital. Intra-association trust was positively influenced by the longevity of property ownership, the number of association meetings, the percentage of males in the association, and other factors. Negative influences on trust included absentee ownership and Habitat Cover Index, which was a measure of the amount of wooded habitat present. In CPOS, members of the BVWA were part of a much larger, more heterogeneous, and more recently formed group than members of WMAs. They also placed greater importance on utilitarian aspects of their properties, as opposed to land stewardship for conservation as practiced by members of WMAs. If associations are kept small ( < 50) with more frequent meetings, greater social capital and information sharing may be achieved, which may lead to increased land stewardship practices. However, landowners may be motivated more by their shared values independent of any benefit from their association.
Wagner, Matthew Wayne (2005). Wildlife and water: collective action and social capital of selected landowner associations in Texas. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from