Max Nielsen-Pincus

Date of Award

Spring 5-27-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management

Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 125 pages)


Conservation easements -- Oregon -- Deschutes County, Landowners -- Oregon -- Deschutes County -- Attitudes




Private land conservation provides an opportunity to address problems of habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss caused by an increase in the development and parcelization of private land. Conservation easements (CEs) are an innovative tool used by land trusts to protect significant natural qualities of private land in perpetuity, while also allowing the land to remain in private ownership. Traditionally, property represents an individualistic relationship, however, CEs redefine this relationship by seeking to maximize the overlap in private and public goods in property. In this study, I explore the relationship between the common good and private property through an analysis of landowner attitudes and interest in conveying CEs. To address my research objectives I implemented a mixed-mode survey to 664 private landowners in the Whychus Creek Watershed in Deschutes County, OR. I received 257 survey responses, yielding a response rate of 41%.

The first layer of this study focuses on landowner attitudes towards CEs (Chapter 2). The results of an exploratory factor analysis suggest there are two dimensions to landowner attitudes towards CEs--internal and external dimension. I constructed logistic regression models to predict positive internal and external attitudes and found that external attitudes are primarily influenced by environmental beliefs, whereas internal attitudes are influenced by a suite of factors including financial beliefs and perceived risk to private ownership. Furthermore, landowner knowledge and awareness of CEs may play a role in attitude development. I found that as awareness increased the number of landowners perceiving low risk also increased. Additionally, I found that those who learned about CEs from a peer were more likely to have an extreme positive or negative attitude towards CEs. The second part of this study focuses on landowner interest in conveying a CE (Chapter 3). The results of a multinomial logistic regression analysis suggest that positive external and internal attitudes towards CEs provide the foundation for CE, while personal incentives and connections to the social and/or natural community serve as the motivation driving CE conveyance.

Although the results of this study are only representative of landowners in the Whychus Creek Watershed I argue that some of the findings may be more broadly applicable. Contributing to our conceptual understanding of CEs, I discuss how CEs may be beneficial in reintegrating the common good into private property. Further, I highlight that landowner connections to both the social community and natural environment are important characteristics of CE conveyance as well as private land conservation in general.

Persistent Identifier