The American public has a number of perceptions regarding publicly owned rangelands that have been clarified by a national survey.

Two university researchers collaborated to investigate those attitudes.Mark Brunson, assistant professor of forest resources at Utah State University, and Brent S. Steel, assistant professor of political science at Washington State University-Vancouver, conducted a national survey using a random sample of 2,000 people.

Interviews were completed with 1,360 adults. Their research findings are scheduled to appear as an article in an edition of Rangelands, the official publication of the international Society for Range Management (SRM), according to Brunson.

He said it is important for ranchers, range managers and politicians to know the concerns of the American public regarding public rangelands. No previous scientific studies regarding those general attitudes have been published, he added.

Americans favor greater protection of non-market rangeland resources and favor a shift from commodity-oriented management, the random survey showed.

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Generally, the respondents do not support the federal policy, which permits grazing in wilderness areas. They favor greater protection of fisheries, wildlife and rare plant communities. They do not favor range management emphasis of livestock grazing on public lands.

When asked about attitudes, respondents were slightly more inclined to support a grazing ban than to oppose it, but half were neutral about the controversial question, the study showed.

By more than a 3-to-1 margin, the respondents opposed a statement that said endangered species should be set aside to preserve ranching jobs. But they felt management decisions should be given the highest priority to protect the economic vitality of local communities.

The respondents favored an increase in grazing fees but agreed by a 3-to-1 majority that those grazing-fee increases should be phased in.

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