Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Abstract

This research explores wetlands conservation techniques employed by private landowners owning 1,000 or more acres who were recipients of an Environmental Law Institute National Wetlands Award. Study of private landowner stewardship is timely and important because in the United States, 75 percent of all wetlands are under private ownership. Given that wetlands provide a suite of valuable ecosystem services such as water filtration, flood abatement, and carbon storage, their conservation is critical to a healthy environment and productive economy. To accomplish this research, landowner files were processed into a digital archive and sub-categorized for research purposes. Telephone interviews were conducted with a study group of seven landowners. Interview results were studied with archival resources, and a comprehensive profile was generated for each individual. Standard case study methodology was employed to interpret and analyze the emergent results. Key findings of this research include the presence of a shared land ethic between land owners. That land ethic is an individualized sentiment, though landowners expressed similarity through a desire to share conservation success with others. Additionally, the majority of landowners reported using a suite of best management practices. These are grouped according to wildlife and wildlife habitat, wetland hydrology, technical assistance and conservation partnerships, and conservation management techniques. Other key findings include a set of site-specific techniques employed by a smaller subset of the study group. Landowners collectively reported other best practices, including participating in community outreach. Also uncovered during analysis was the range of historical factors that influence land management approach, such as agricultural drainage policies. In its entirety, this research seeks to provide a reference guide for both landowners and policy makers, presenting the best management practices for conserving wetlands on private lands.

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