Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education

Committee

Debra Spielmaker

Committee

Eric T. Thacker

Committee

Kelsey L. Hall

Abstract

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages approximately 245 million acres in the U.S., the majority of which are in the western half of the country. There have been several conflicts in Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona, since 2010 that have resulted in a fatality, armed militias, several incarcerations, and lawsuits facing the federal government. Following a preliminary needs assessment conducted in Box Elder County, Utah, and a comprehensive review of the literature, further research was needed to understand BLM professional (BLM managers or BLM specialists) and rancher perceptions regarding BLM policies and procedures. The study specifically looked at attitudes, perception and knowledge concerning the implementation of range improvement projects to potentially address conflicts and relationship issues between ranchers and BLM professionals. A needs assessment model was used to frame the research.

Two similar questionnaires, one for BLM professional and the other for permitees (ranchers) using federal land managed by the BLM, were developed by the researcher. The questionnaire was divided into four sections: participant characteristics; perceptions concerning BLM policies; knowledge questions related to BLM policies; and attitudes concerning federal land ownership and BLM policies. The rancher questionnaire was mailed to 182 ranchers and netted a 37.2% response rate. The BLM questionnaire was emailed to 15 BLM professionals in the Salt Lake Field office and netted an 84.6% response rate. Results were analyzed using descriptive and appropriate correlation statistics. Multiple relationships between rancher and BLM professionals’ perceptions and knowledge were identified. Rancher interventions should include (a) when to submit rangeland improvement projects, (b) what could result in a temporary reduction in AUMs on a grazing allotment, (c) where to access online NEPA documents, and (d) who makes final land management decisions for the BLM. BLM professionals’ interventions could include the steps required for planning a juniper removal project, and when to submit a new waterline or fenceline request. Ranchers’ background has minimal influence on their perception. Rancher age had a medium, positive relationship on ranchers’ attitude regarding the NEPA process working and needing no revisions. Finally, the majority of rancher respondents identified as somewhat agreeing, somewhat disagreeing, or strongly disagreeing with the federal government owning land.

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