Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Nicholas E. Flores

Second Advisor

Jonathan E. Hughes

Third Advisor

Hannah Brenkert-Smith

Fourth Advisor

Terrance J. McCabe

Fifth Advisor

Maxwell Boykoff


This study examines individuals' preferences for protected agricultural lands. While there is a preponderance of studies quantifying the magnitudes and determinants of support for farmland protection studies rarely examine preferences for post-protection aspects of agricultural lands. However, farmlands are living systems subjected to land use strategies employed by their managers. So even in instances when farmland has been protected in accordance with the public's stated preferences, the actual farmland management strategy employed might not deliver what the public expects. This dissertation seeks to contribute to this gap in knowledge in two ways.

First, I focus on the back-end of farmland protection, i.e. the types of preferences individuals have for agricultural lands once they are protected. Second, I explore how individual preferences for protected agricultural lands are products of social interactions. Using Boulder County, Colorado as a case study, I address these questions using semi-structured, in-depth interviews with stakeholders, a general population survey, and a hedonic pricing model.

Findings from qualitative interviews revealed that stakeholders have general concerns about the management aspects for protected agricultural lands and specific concerns about the management plans for protected agricultural lands, about land tenure relationships shaping the management process, and about what property rights the general public acquires when they support efforts to protect agricultural lands.

Findings from the general population survey indicate that respondents are most interested in the non-market amenity benefits often associated with agricultural lands. Moreover, many of the preferences expressed in the survey suggest that many of the benefits may not require agricultural lands, but may be derived from open space lands. For instance, when respondents support efforts to protect agricultural lands they are more concerned with limiting development (70%) than with limiting the types of farmland practices on protected agricultural lands (28%).

Findings from the hedonic pricing model indicate that homeowners have preferences for living in close proximity to agricultural land that is formally protected. Moreover, the sales price of homes directly adjacent to protected agricultural lands, on average, experience 6.5% more than the sales price of houses not directly adjacent to protected agricultural lands.