• Evaluation of California’s Rangeland Water Quality Education Program

      Larson, Stephanie; Smith, Kelly; Lewis, David; Harper, John; George, Melvin (Society for Range Management, 2005-09-01)
      The University of California Cooperative Extension surveyed rangeland owners and managers who attended California’s Ranch Water Quality Planning (RWQP) Short Course in 1995-2002. The survey evaluated the effectiveness of this industry-supported voluntary program by evaluating indicators for short course impacts, including 1) rancher participation in the short courses, 2) completion of nonpoint source self-assessments, 3) completion of ranch water quality plans, and 4) implementation of best management practices (BMPs). This report describes the RWQP short course and ranch water quality plan content including the nonpoint source pollution self-assessment and monitoring. Questionnaires were mailed to 777 short course participants on 5 August 2002 (Round 1). A second survey (Round 2) was mailed to nonrespondents on 7 April 2003. Round 1 and 2 surveys resulted in a 52.9% total adjusted response rate. Citing privacy issues, 28 respondents refused to complete the survey. Round 1 respondents had a significantly higher rate of BMP implementation, but Round 2 respondents invested more personal funds in BMPs. There was a significant relationship (P < 0.001) between plan completion and implementation of BMPs. While the majority of the respondents completed ranch water quality plans and self-assessments, and implemented BMPs, less than 50% of the respondents implemented a monitoring program. Fifty percent of the respondents raised beef cattle, and the majority managed ranches less than 5 000 acres in size. The results of this survey suggest that industry-initiated, voluntary programs supported by education are effective in helping rangeland owners and managers address nonpoint source pollution on their properties. In addition, social surveys are a viable method for landowners to confidentially self-document identified pollution sources and BMP implementation, and to avoid formal reporting to regulatory agencies.