An economic analysis of a large scale ashe juniper clearing project in the Leon River watershed
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Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei) is native to the Edwards Plateau in central Texas. In the past 150 years, however, this species has rapidly increased in abundance within its range. Reduced fire frequency and increased livestock grazing, are two factors attributed to the rapid rate of juniper encroachment. While the losses associated with brush encroachment are recognized, many ranchers lack the funds necessary to implement management practices to reduce juniper densities on their property. The high cost associated with clearing brush has led to the creation of cost-share programs, which help offset the expenses incurred by participating landowners. The Leon River Restoration Project (LRRP), implemented on private lands within Coryell and Hamilton Counties, Texas, is one such cost-share program. Funding for the LRRP is received through non-programmatic sources, in the form of grants, from various state and federal organizations and agencies. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides a second source of funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Participants contracted through LRRP funds receive 85% cost-share benefits, up to a maximum of $15,000. Landowners participating in the LRRP under EQIP funds receive 50% cost-share incentives, up to a maximum of $250,000. The purpose of this study was to record changes that occurred on land enrolled in the LRRP, following juniper removal, and the economic benefits recognized by this work. Thirty landowners scheduled to participate in the LRRP were interviewed in 2003, prior to juniper control work. In 2006, 23 of the original 30 landowners participated in a second interview, following their completion of brush removal work. Changes attributed to juniper removal were recorded during these post-clearing interviews. Stocking rate changes were used as the basis for measuring economic benefits recognized by the clearing efforts. Changes in hunting or grazing lease rates resulting from juniper clearing were also used to monitor economic benefits of the brushwork. A second component of the study tested for differences in landowner satisfaction between LRRP participants enrolled under LRRP funds, and those contracted under EQIP funds. Importanceperformance matrixes were created to display satisfaction differences.
Flack, Rebecca Lynn (2007). An economic analysis of a large scale ashe juniper clearing project in the Leon River watershed. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from