Private land plays a crucial role in the conservation of biodiversity in California, yet these lands are the least protected and most prone to environmental degradation. In 1930, Aldo Leopold recognized the potential to better conserve private land by an incentive scheme where recreational users would pay landowners for access to conserved wildlife habitat. While research has shown that significant funds are spent to utilize large areas of private land for wildlife-associated recreation, this study seeks to specifically understand whether this recreational use actually results in improved conservation practices. I use interviews with private landowners and private land managers in California who owned >404 ha (1000 ac) to evaluate whether those landowners with recreational utilization are more likely to perform habitat conservation practices. Interviews revealed that while not widely adopted, hunting was the primary recreational use on many private lands surveyed, and that some conservation practices were performed to enhance the hunting enterprise. There appears to be an important role for extension and outreach efforts to better inform landowners of the earning potential from recreational hunting as well as the conservation practices that could enhance both wildlife habitat and revenue for a hunting enterprise.
Macaulay, Luke T. 2015. Evaluating recreational hunting as an incentive for habitat conservation on private land in California. In: Standiford, Richard B.; Purcell, Kathryn L., tech. cords. Proceedings of the seventh California oak symposium: managing oak woodlands in a dynamic world. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-251. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 257-264.