What Role does Agriculture Play in Conservation of the Southwest Wyoming Landscape?
Agriculture is one of Wyoming’s most profitable industries and has a strong presence in the WLCI area, accounting for nearly 18 percent of the State’s agricultural lands. Agriculture plays an important role in the economic activity and historic identity of people who live within the WLCI boundaries. Understanding the value of agriculture is important when evaluating landscapes for conservation planning and local development, particularly when other landscape uses may compete with agriculture. This understanding can help to ensure that the values of all land uses can be fully considered instead of focusing on single or few land uses.
To aid decisionmakers with difficult land-use choices, researchers worked with WLCI partners to develop the WLCI Integrated Assessment (IA), which displays the importance of many resource values on a readily accessible Web-based map. This study seeks to build upon the information used within the IA to include improved measures of agricultural productivity and historical, ecological, and socioeconomic dimensions of agriculture across the WLCI. The IA originally contained information on agricultural importance within the WLCI region but was limited in scope by incorporating only the productivity of agricultural lands. USGS economists were tasked with exploring ways to expand this information to include historical, ecological, and socioeconomic values.