Ranchland Dynamics: Assessing Patterns of Change in Ranchland Ownership and Use in the American West

The Ranchland Dynamics project pursues a clearer picture of the rates and patterns of changes in ownership and use of the West’s ranchlands and assesses the land conservation implications of this transition. Of particular interest is the widespread transfer of ranches out of traditional hands to a new generation of owners with different land management models and goals. This transition affects ranching as a cultural and economic system, changes rural communities, and influences the conservation opportunities offered by large, intact private land parcels.

Despite much discussion, geographical details of this phenomenon have been lacking. Neither researchers nor conservationists have a good grasp of the rates or extent of ranch turnover, despite frequent comments in the media that “a large percent of ranches are likely to change hands over the next decade.” The Ranchland Dynamics report responds by tracking ownership change patterns in the greater Yellowstone area, collecting interviews with both long-time and newly minted ranchers, and offering conservation strategies for landscapes in transition.