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Outreach enhances landowners’ views of conservation programs

Cara J

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Over 70 percent of land in the continental United States is privately held, so the support of private landowners is crucial for wildlife habitat conservation. Researchers recently found that personalized outreach to private property owners in public conservation programs can improve the landowners’ experience in these initiatives, strengthen their trust for agencies and help keep them engaged in the maintenance of habitat for imperiled species. “Better perceptions of the outcomes of conservation programs and greater trust could facilitate future habitat management,” said Seth Lutter, a Virginia Tech masters student and first author on the paper published in PLOS ONE. “For biologists and other conservation professionals, the important potential of their interactions with private landowners is something to think about.” Lutter and his colleagues studied the influence of follow-up outreach to private landowners who’d managed their properties for young forest habitat through two programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year, he interviewed over 100 property owners who participated in the Working Lands for Wildlife program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service representative and a golden-winged warbler biologist meet with private [...]

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