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  • Thumbnail for Collaborative Conservation in the Contested Landscapes of Southern Utah
    Collaborative Conservation in the Contested Landscapes of Southern Utah by Larsen, Judy Brooke

    As the West has grown and urbanized, a clash has formed between the Old West and New West—between traditional, rural livelihoods such as ranching and mining and those of the growing service sector and recreational economy. However, the complex history of Western landscapes and the current mix of diverse stakeholders show that the conflict goes beyond this binary. Conventional methods of large landscape conservation can heighten contention, so collaborative conservation has emerged as an alternative strategy. This paper discusses Southern Utah as a contested landscape, and assesses the viability of collaborative conservation to reduce contention in the region and conserve large landscapes. To identify factors that make Southern Utah contested, I conducted a historical analysis of federal land policy and major conservation events and land disputes in Southern Utah, and I interviewed 37 people, including stakeholders, experts, federal agency workers, and elected officials. I then assessed four case studies of collaborative conservation in Southern Utah. I found seven characteristics important for collaborative conservation processes: unifying crisis, funding, leadership, expert facilitator, appropriate scope, consensus, and reciprocity. I also assessed the outcomes of each case study in terms of improved environmental health and improved relations and trust among stakeholders and managers (Kinney 2001). I found that Southern Utah is an inherently contested landscape that poses challenges to substantively conserve large landscapes while also reducing contention. Collaborative conservation is a viable conservation strategy under the circumstances I identified, but the success of the collaboration can vary depending on the goals and methods used in the collaboration.