When Maggi Sliwinski, a doctoral candidate in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, began looking into grassland management, she interviewed some ranchers to get an idea of what they thought about the land management practices.
“A lot of them said things like, we want universities to do research on exactly how our management is influencing the wildlife and what the different strategies people use, how those contribute to different types of habitat or water conservation,” Sliwinski tells Nebraska Radio Network.
With that as a baseline, Sliwinski set out to create a survey of nearly 3,000 ranchers in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“I ask questions about some different management strategies that could promote grassland conservation and some questions about what their attitudes or opinions are about landscape scale management,” she says, “so managing at a larger scale than we’re typically used to.”
Sliwinski says the results could help ranchers, scientists, and policymakers improve grassland conservation efforts.
About 600 landowners responded to the survey, which Sliwinski says will help produce better conservation methods, such as incentive programs or educational materials for ranchers.
“Since they are the key to conserving grasslands,” she says.
Sliwinski says the ultimate goal is protecting native grassland habitats and ranching livelihoods.