Event Title

Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of Water Quality Outreach and Education Efforts on Landowners in the Little Bear River Watershed

Presenter Information

Jamie McEvoy

Location

ECC 303/305

Event Website

https://water.usu.edu/

Start Date

3-31-2008 4:45 PM

End Date

3-31-2008 5:00 PM

Description

In the late 1980s the Little Bear River in northern Utah was identified as having significant water quality impairments due to phosphorus runoff from agricultural operations in the area. In response, a comprehensive, multi-agency water quality project was initiated in 1992 to educate local producers and landowners, and to promote the use of best management practices throughout the watershed. The purpose of this research was to assess the effectiveness of project outreach and education efforts on motivating landowners’ participation in the project and increasing their awareness and understanding of the water quality problem. Data were gathered by reviewing annual project reports, interviewing project staff about outreach and education efforts, and conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with over 50 farmers and ranchers who participated in the project. Participants were asked how they heard about the project, how they got involved, what motivated them to participate, if they attended any workshops or fieldtrips sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and if they believed there was a water quality problem on the Little Bear River in 1990. The findings suggest that landowners were motivated to participate in the program more by practical farm and household considerations and the available cost-share opportunities than by particular environmental concerns. The findings also suggest, that previous relationships established by Natural Resource Conservation Service staff and one-on-one visits with landowners played an important role in the diffusion process, while demonstration projects played a smaller role than expected. Finally, results suggest that although participants had a good grasp of the project goals, they did not have a strong sense of ownership of the water quality problem. These results add to the debate in the literature on whether increasing knowledge is a cost-effective strategy or if programs should simply focus on the economic benefits of participating in conservation programs. The results also suggest which outreach strategies were most and least effective in this case.

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Mar 31st, 4:45 PM Mar 31st, 5:00 PM

Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of Water Quality Outreach and Education Efforts on Landowners in the Little Bear River Watershed

ECC 303/305

In the late 1980s the Little Bear River in northern Utah was identified as having significant water quality impairments due to phosphorus runoff from agricultural operations in the area. In response, a comprehensive, multi-agency water quality project was initiated in 1992 to educate local producers and landowners, and to promote the use of best management practices throughout the watershed. The purpose of this research was to assess the effectiveness of project outreach and education efforts on motivating landowners’ participation in the project and increasing their awareness and understanding of the water quality problem. Data were gathered by reviewing annual project reports, interviewing project staff about outreach and education efforts, and conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with over 50 farmers and ranchers who participated in the project. Participants were asked how they heard about the project, how they got involved, what motivated them to participate, if they attended any workshops or fieldtrips sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and if they believed there was a water quality problem on the Little Bear River in 1990. The findings suggest that landowners were motivated to participate in the program more by practical farm and household considerations and the available cost-share opportunities than by particular environmental concerns. The findings also suggest, that previous relationships established by Natural Resource Conservation Service staff and one-on-one visits with landowners played an important role in the diffusion process, while demonstration projects played a smaller role than expected. Finally, results suggest that although participants had a good grasp of the project goals, they did not have a strong sense of ownership of the water quality problem. These results add to the debate in the literature on whether increasing knowledge is a cost-effective strategy or if programs should simply focus on the economic benefits of participating in conservation programs. The results also suggest which outreach strategies were most and least effective in this case.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2008/AllAbstracts/22