Economic Benefits Report (click to download)Economic Benefits of Grassland Protected Areas Report

The report (full version is available here) was issued by the Grassland Foundation and is a collection of ideas and anecdotal evidence that supports incremental and targeted land use and ownership change in the grassland areas of Nebraska. Though cattle will always be king on the plains, properly conceived and implemented at the local level, a protected areas initiative could benefit the state’s economy. The intent of the report was to initiate further dialogue about how such change could be accomplished.

Bull Riders for Biodiversity (click to download)- Photo © Joel SartoreBull Riders for Biodiversity

Written by Tyler Sutton, President of the Grassland Foundation, this paper argues that federal rural development policy should encourage the creation of large-scale conservation areas on the plains through community-based institutions (full version available here).  These areas would be controlled locally for rural economic development purposes, and to improve grassland biodiversity management.  However, to succeed, rural attitude would need to change and new rural leadership would need to step forward.

Great Plains ReserchSaving the World’s Grasslands

In the spring of 2009 the Grassland Foundation and other partners hosted a two day symposium in Lincoln, Nebraska on grassland conservation activities around the world.  Temperate grasslands are the least protected habitat in the world.  The presentations put the North American Great Plains in the context of global efforts to conserve grasslands.  Nine presentations were included for publication in a special issue of Great Plains Research, a journal of natural and social sciences sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Great Plains Studies. The journal is available for purchase from the Center for Great Plains Studies at (402) 472-3082, or you can click here for more information.

Creating Large-scale Private Property-Based Conservation Areas

Anthonu Schutz (click to download paper)University of Nebraska-Lincoln Law Professor Anthony Schutz broke new ground with his publication of Grassland Governance and Common-Interest Communities (full version available here).  This paper discusses legal mechanisms for cattle ranchers to work together to maintain their individual ranching operations, while building collaborative nature-based businesses and managing wildlife on a large-scale.  This is a private property response to the so-called Buffalo Commons.  It keeps the focus on improving the profitability of private cattle ranches by using consensual agreements between landowners, rather than replacing cattle ranches with a program of government land buy-outs.  This paper won the 2010 Professional Scholarship Award given by the American Agricultural Law Association.

Sandhills Economic Study

Larry Swanson, Ph.D., Director of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, at the University of Montana, conducted a study to determine the economic, employment and demographic impacts associated with increasing the number of ranches conducting nature-based activities on their cattle ranches over a twenty year period.  The preliminary results showed a significant increase in income and employment, and a decrease in the average age in the region, should a nature-based industry continue to expand in the Nebraska Sandhills.  The study will be archived here when the final draft is completed in the spring of 2012.