The Role of the Central Wisconsin Farmer in Collaborative Planning to Preserve the Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus)
Hernandez, Jacob C.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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As we continue to debate the effects, solutions, and long term consequences of our actions one thing remains certain; environmental degradation is a direct result of human actions. Here in Central Wisconsin grassland habitat has been on the decline for the past 50 years, primarily due to anthropogenic driven land use changes. Consequently upland species, in particular the Greater-Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus), have been negatively affected. Tremendous strides have been made in merging social science to understand the role of society in environmental degradation. However, as change remains a constant there will likely never be a single solution. As a result, there is a demand for a strategic planning approach which incorporates both the geospatial and social sciences necessary to resolve the multidimensional problem occurring in this landscape. The overall objective of these studies was to understand the role of the Central Wisconsin farmer in strategic conservation planning to preserve the Greater Prairie-Chicken. To better understand the geospatial component of the strategic conservation planning paradigm two separate, but related, geospatial analyses were employed using ArcGIS (v.10.2) and previously published methods to complete two objectives. The first objective sought to identify and quantify Central Wisconsin’s land use changes with regard to grassland habitat conversion from 1992-2010. The second objective sought to quantify Central Wisconsin’s remaining core grassland. Results for objective 1 indicate an 18 year negative trend. Central Wisconsin has seen an 18.37% (229,797 acres) loss in grassland habitat due to land use changes. Furthermore, within the Central Wisconsin Grassland Conservation Area (CWGCA), 15.07% (49,690 acres) have been lost. Results for objective 2 indicate that there remains 1.02 million acres of fragmented grassland habitat. However, of this total only 5.13% (52,323 acres) were considered core patches. The results of this study locate priority areas for allocation of limited resources. To better understand the human dimension component of the strategic conservation planning paradigm a five wave mail survey was sent to 312 individual private landowners (N=312) to complete two objectives. The first objective sought to develop a typology of Central Wisconsin farmers based on collective belief systems toward collaborative conservation approaches. The second objective explored differences and similarities that exist between farmer groups. A response rate of 35.8% was attained; yielding 112 (n=112) completed and returned surveys. The inverted-R analysis employed exposed three different collective belief systems towards various collaborative approaches (group 1 n=47, group 2 n=15, and group 3 n=7). Respondents were grouped accordingly and 15 independent sample t-tests were used to investigate where group mean responses statistically differed to preferred collaborating partners, preferred collaborating models, and importance of continued Greater Prairie Chicken and grassland habitat management. No statistical difference was identified between groups with regard to preferred collaborative models, or importance of continued Greater Prairie-Chicken and grassland habitat. However, statistical significance was identified with regard to preferred collaborating partners. Results indicate that multiple farmer typologies exist in the Central Wisconsin landscape. Each farmer typology has preferred methods of involvement in the planning process.