Social dilemmas and public range management in Nevada

G.C. van Kooten, P. Thomsen, T. Hobby, A.J. Eagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing tension in the Nevada ranch community may have had a negative impact on social capital. Social capital is important because it facilitates cooperation in resolving social dilemmas related to public range management. In this paper, we use a survey of public grazing permit holders in Nevada to investigate factors that affect ranchers' relationships with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Results indicate that, contrary to expectations, economic factors such as income and ranch size have little or no effect on relationships in the Nevada ranch community ¿ on ranchers' disagreements with public land managers and the deterioration in rancher-land agency relations. Rather, these relationships appear to be affected to a greater extent by our measures of social capital, personal characteristics and experience with wildfire. Indeed, disagreements with the public agencies were mainly affected by gender (males tended to have more disagreements), lack of trust, and disputes concerning responses to wildfire (which increased the chance of disagreement). Not surprisingly, disagreement resulted in a deterioration of relationships that could be offset by higher levels of social capital, particularly trust and positive attitudes towards the future of ranching and the community (as measured by responses to a variety of attitudinal questions). We conclude that, while there remain opportunities to build on existing social capital in the community (horizontal relations), ranchers and the public agencies need to work on building vertical relations, thereby increasing trust. This could potentially help in the resolution of social dilemmas related to range management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-723
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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