Projects

Current Project Information

Building Climate Readiness in Nature-Based Tourism Dependent Communities: A Resident Survey

This study will expand on another project titled, "Building Climate Readiness in Nature-Based Tourism Dependent Communities," in which interactive workshops with local stakeholders including business owners, government officials, and parks and trails managers revealed high levels of support for and commitment to climate adaptation among recreation and tourism professionals and visitors. However, questions persist around the support and commitment of the greater community, residents who may not be as aware of or concerned about climate impacts. In this study, researchers conducted a self-administered mail survey of a random sample of North Shore residents to assess their values, beliefs, norms and current and future conservation behaviors associate with climate adaptation.

Project collaborators: UMN Department of Forest Resources and Center for Changing Landscapes

Project funder: Minnesota Sea Grant

Economic and Social Capacity Analysis of the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is conducting a feasibility study of a Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program (aka “Working Lands program”). The Working Lands program would create incentives for conversion of land to crops that provide perennial or winter living cover (hereafter “alternative crops”) for a variety of potential uses. As part of this larger project, we will undertake an analysis to identify and quantify the economic and social factors affecting farmers’ willingness to grow alternative crops on lands currently in annual row crops. The focus of the analysis will be on the contractual relationships between the farmer who would grow an alternative crop and BWSR (possibly supplementing or in partnership with another buying entity). The project is designed to answer the following questions:

  • What is the likely commercial value (price per unit of harvested biomass) of alternative crops in their most practical end uses?
  • Based on the commercial value of the alternative crops, how does a farmer’s net income per acre compare to that of annual row crops?
  • What are the known environmental benefits of alternative crops for various end uses?
  • If farmers in a given watershed are offered a contract to grow an alternative crop for various levels of compensation (biomass price per unit or payment per acre), how many acres can be expected to be placed under contract?
  • How will non-price contractual terms (signup procedures, contract duration, early withdrawal penalties, monitoring requirements, etc.) affect farmers’ willingness to enroll in these contracts?
  • How will existing federal programs reinforce or complicate farmers’ incentives to enroll in these contracts?
  • How will the number of contracted acres be impacted by social factors including local capacity measures and social influences such as information sources, efficacy, attitudes, and norms?

These questions will be addressed through four major project tasks:

  1. A literature review to assess the current state of knowledge on alternative crops and their feasibility in the Upper Midwest;
  2. Collection and analysis of survey data on social influences, and farmers likely responses to contractual offers; 
  3. Development of a spreadsheet tool to quantify the economic feasibility of alternative crops and predict the number of contracted acres under different situations;
  4. Project coordination to ensure communication and timely delivery of outputs. 

Project collaborators: MN Board of Water and Soil Resources, UMN Department of Forest Resources

Project funder: MN Board of Water and Soil Resources

Social Science-Based Assessment of Conservation Practices in La Crescent Watershed

This project is designed to explore landowner motivations and constraints to conservation practice adoption using social science survey methods and geospatial analysis.  The specific objectives are to:

  1. Examine landowner values, beliefs, norms and behaviors associated with water resource conservation.
  2. Identify conservation opportunity areas that are socially suitable for future conservation through geospatial analysis of social data

We will send a self-administered mail survey to a stratified, random sample of 3000 landowners in the Mississippi River-La Crescent and Mississippi River-Reno watersheds, including both farm and non-farm property owners. Then we will utilize the survey data collected, to conduct geospatial analysis and modeling to identify conservation opportunity areas, i.e., areas within the watershed that are socially suitable for future conservation.

We anticipate that an improved understanding of the drivers and constraints to conservation practice adoption will provide invaluable direction to policy makers, program designers, and local implementers, for future conservation funding, planning and evaluation.

Project collaborators: UMN Department of Forest Resources and Center for Changing Landscapes, Winona County

Project funder: MN Pollution Control Agency