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Rangeland managers' adoption of innovations, awareness of state and transition models, and management of Bromus tectorum: a survey of ranchers and natural resource professionals in Wyoming and Colorado




Kelley, Windy K., author
Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria Edith, advisor
Meiman, Paul J., committee member
Brown, Cynthia S., committee member
Teel, Tara L., committee member

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Decision-making tools that help land managers understand the complexity of interactions between the human and biophysical components of rangelands and make decisions in a changing environment are necessary for sustainable rangeland management. To ensure the success of such tools, it is important to understand the end users' knowledge, views, and current management practices related to decision-making tools, as well as the factors associated with their adoption and implementation. We facilitated focus groups and distributed a self-administered mail survey to ranchers and natural resource professionals (NRPs) in Wyoming and Colorado to explore factors associated with ranchers' adoption and implementation of progressive management and business practices and their use of government programs. Additionally, we sought to gain an understanding of ranchers' and NRPs' awareness, attitudes, and current management practices related to two current rangeland topics: state and transition models (STMs), a rangeland assessment, planning, and monitoring tool, and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), a non-native invasive weed. We found that the greatest percentage of ranchers (37%) is in the two most innovative categories, strongly proactive, and innovators. We recommend a diffusion of innovation strategy that focuses on reaching the most risk- tolerant ranchers first, in order to disseminate innovations into local communities where the proactive ranchers (35% of our respondents) can observe implementation and outcomes associated with adoption of a new practice/program. However, care must be taken to insure innovations are diffused vertically within a population, reaching different socioeconomic levels. In addition, we found that 69% of ranchers were unaware of STMs, and there is much variation among natural resource agencies in their awareness and use of this tool. Both ranchers and NRPs perceive that STMs will help them to achieve their ecological and/or economic objectives. Overall, ranchers and NRPs perceive cheatgrass as a problem, but professionals generally perceive it as a bigger problem than ranchers, and perceptions of both groups vary regionally in Wyoming and Colorado. Ranchers reported they had the most success managing cheatgrass by grazing it in the early spring. NRPs reported they were most successful managing cheatgrass with a combined approach of prescribed fire, herbicide application, and seeding. This study demonstrates the need to develop appropriate outreach and extension material about STMs and the management of cheatgrass for each of the target populations in Wyoming and Colorado.


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ranchers' perspectives
Cheatgrass brome -- Colorado
natural resource professionals' perspectives
Cheatgrass brome -- Wyoming
cheatgrass management
state and transition models
adoption of innovation


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