Landowner Satisfaction with the Wetland Reserve Program in Texas: A Mixed-Methods Analysis.
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Using mail survey data and telephone interviews, we report on landowner satisfaction with permanent easements held by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) throughout Texas. This study found that landowners were dissatisfied with the NRCS Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), conflicting with results of previous studies. The objective of this study was to explore specific reasons for frustration expressed by landowners with the program. We found three predominant themes underpinning program dissatisfaction: (1) upfront restoration failures, (2) overly restrictive easement constraints, and (3) bureaucratic hurdles limiting landowners' ability to conduct adaptive management on their easement property. The implications of this study suggest that attitudes of landowners participating in the WRP may limit the long-term effectiveness of this program. Suggestions for improving the program include implementing timely, ecologically sound restoration procedures and streamlining and simplifying the approval process for management activity requests. In addition, the NRCS should consider revising WRP restriction guidelines in order to provide more balance between protection goals and landowner autonomy.