Ranchland Dynamics

William R. Travis, Team Leader
Hannah Gosnell, Julia Hobson Haggerty, and Jessica Lage, Researchers
Thomas Dickinson and Geneva Mixon, Mapping and GIS

Assessing Patterns of Change in Ranchland Ownership and Use in The American West

Photo - Ranch in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


The Ranchland Dynamics project attempts to obtain a clearer picture of the rates and patterns of changes in ownership and use of the West's ranchlands, and to assess 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. The American Farmland Trust has recently mapped ranchlands at risk of development in the Rocky Mountain West and many conservation organizations look to ranches as key parcels of open space, productive land and wildlife habitat to be protected in this rapidly-developing region. But 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."


Ownership Change Patterns: Our latest results tracking changes in ranchland ownership in the West.

Conservation Strategies: A tool for fitting land conservation to ranching landscapes in different stages of transition.

Ranchland Use in Transition: First results from our interviews of new and long-time ranch owners.


Click here to view contact information for members of the Ranchland Study Team.


Center of the American West

A Center of the American West project with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Yellowstone Heritage, and The Nature Conservancy