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Idaho State University

Ecosystem Services and Idaho’s Farmers

Idaho State University Participants

Katrina Running, Jordan Burke (MILES graduate research assistant), Kathleen Shipley (MURI student), Tomas Cota (MURI student)

Research Problem

Our goal was to study how farmers in southeastern Idaho (within a 70 mile radius of Pocatello) use and perceive ecosystem services, especially water. We examined how farmers’ behavior and attitudes affect their environment-related decisions, including their willingness to adopt new conservation practices, work with regulatory agencies, and develop community-based solutions.

Research Outcomes

We conducted and analyzed 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with farmers in southeastern Idaho. We found that most farmers express a commitment to environmental stewardship but are suspicious of specific regulations designed to improve environmental sustainability, mostly due to their generally low opinion about how well both the general public and government officials understand the farming profession. We also found that while most farmers report noticing specific environmental changes in the area such as rainier springs and warmer winter temperatures, few farmers connect these with long-term global climate change or have plans to modify their behavior to adapt to these changes.

Potential Impacts

Our findings have a number of important implications for future natural resource management efforts. Because farmers do not yet incorporate scientific predictions about long-term climate change into their farming operations, a plan to do so would be valuable, but our findings suggest that this information should be disseminated through members of the community. Cultural distrust of outsiders is high, so people with local connections and knowledge are much more likely to successfully persuade farmers to adopt voluntary conservation measures than people perceived as outsiders.


Katrina Running, Jordan Burke & Kathleen Shipley (2016): Perceptions of Environmental Change and Climate Concern Among Idaho’s Farmers, Society & Natural Resources, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2016.1239151

Burke, Jordan, and Katrina Running. “Idaho Farmers’ Perceptions of Their Role in Global Food Production: A Narrative Analysis.” In preparation for submission.