High Plains Landowner Survey

In 2006, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) conducted a survey of 1,800 landowners in the High Plains region with the purpose of determining the baseline of landowner knowledge of playas and their willingness to conduct conservation work. The survey found that most landowners with playas on their properties are willing to conserve them, with many saying the wetlands are a positive presence on the land, primarily because they attract wildlife.

Based on the results of the High Plains Landowner Survey 2006: Farmers, Ranchers and Conservation, a majority of playa landowners (74 percent) were willing (28 percent ‘highly’ and 46 percent ‘moderately’) to plant native grass buffers around playas if given an incentive.

Survey data also revealed that landowners like playas and the wildlife they attract. Sixty-eight percent of playa landowners say that the wetlands are an ‘overall positive’ feature on the landscape, with wildlife being the top benefit. Also, landowner (playa and non-playa owners) willingness was fairly significant for many other conservation practices such as removing invasive plant species (52 percent willing) and implementing grazing management plans (48 percent willing).

Survey data revealed that although landowners are concerned about the future of the Ogallala Aquifer, not all understand playas’ crucial role in groundwater recharge. Of 13 possible resources that might warrant additional conservation effort, landowners said they supported ‘more conservation than now’ for only one — the Ogallala Aquifer. However, about 50 percent of landowners did not know whether or not playas recharged groundwater, when in fact playas are the primary source of recharge for the aquifer.

The High Plains Landowner Survey was conducted from March through May 2006 by DJ Case and Associates on behalf of the PLJV. The 21-question survey was mailed to 1,800 landowners randomly selected from a Farm Service Agency list of agricultural producers in a six-state region that includes portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Final response was 26 percent (429 respondents). Confidence level for this sample is +/-2 to 5 percentage points. Complete survey results and executive summary are available below: