The University of Arizona

To ranch or not to ranch: home on the urban range?

R.H. Liffmann, L. Huntsinger, L.C. Forero

Abstract


California ranchers in urban Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and in rural Tehama County, were surveyed to examine effects of increasing development, land use change, and attrition of the ranching community on their commitment to ranching, and to assess land conservation program acceptability. Questions were about practices, reasons for ranching, and what influences ranching's future. Ranchers share much in common. Most enjoy ranching, "feeling close to the earth," living in a "good place for family life," and the camaraderie in the ranching community. They regularly carry out range improvements. Most believe that society is becoming "hostile to ranching." A dislike for outsider intervention and land use control prevails. Urban ranchers cared significantly less about the fate of their ranch if sold, and feared local land use planning much more. Rural ranchers overwhelmingly wanted their ranch to remain a productive ranch even if sold. No new ranchers appeared in the urban sample for the last 10 years. As urbanization proceeds, we suggest that a point is reached where ranchers recognize the social, ecological, and economic landscape as urban and see it as no longer suitable for ranching. Expecting to sell for development, and/or expecting zoning to change to allow it, becomes the rational view. Land conservation efforts, including relatively acceptable though as yet not widespread conservation easement programs, should begin before that happens.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v53i4_liffmann


Keywords


ranching;land use;land use planning;urban areas;rural areas;farmers' attitudes;beef production;California;rangelands

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