The University of Arizona

Policy prospects for brush control to increase off-site water yield.

T.L. Thurow, A.P. Thurow, M.D. Garriga

Abstract


Water yield from rangeland on the Edwards Plateau, Texas is significantly greater if a site is dominated by grass instead of brush. Brush control programs are being considered by policy-makers as a way to relieve water shortages in the region. This research analyzed ranchers' willingness to participate in a publicly-funded brush control cost-sharing program that would be ranch-revenue neutral. A survey instrument was mailed to 226 ranchers, 119 were completed and returned (53%). The cost sharing program required that brush on enrolled land be cleared and maintained at 3% cover for a 10-year period. Respondents estimated that current brush cover on their land averaged 41%, which contrasted with their preference that brush cover average 27%. This expression of preferred brush cover was similar to an independent estimate by a panel of experts in the region which indicated ranch livestock and deer-hunting lease value would be maximized at 30% brush cover. These estimates indicate that a program designed to increase water yield by reducing brush cover to 3% would likely require a financial incentive to offset the cost of brush control that exceeded the preference of the owner. Sixty-six percent of respondents indicated a willingness to enroll some portion of their land in the cost-sharing program described in the survey instrument. Ranch size, the percentage of ranch income earned from deer-hunting leases and livestock, and whether or not ranchers indicated that expense limited past brush control efforts were the variables measured by the survey instrument which best explained the probability of participation and the amount of land the owner was willing to enroll.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v53i1_thurow


Keywords


leasing;farm surveys;farm income;game animals;water yield;watershed management;ranching;hunting;cost analysis;decision making;brush control;Texas;wildlife management;range management

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