Land management trends of small acreage landowners in a high growth exurban watershed in Central Texas
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This research explores the link between land management attitudes, actions, and ideologies of small acreage exurban landowners and their implications for the landscape as a whole. In particular, this research is a case study of the land management dynamics in a high growth exurban region of Central Texas. A survey gathered in-depth landscape preferences and management actions for a random sample of small acreage landowners in the Onion Creek watershed outside of Austin, Texas. The study’s focus on small acreage residential landowners provides new insights into this class and type of exurban actor, by using survey data to create three recognizable exurban land management aesthetics or archetypes and linked land management actions that are at work across the exurban landscape. “Ranchland”, “suburban”, and “wild / natural” land management archetypes engage in various degrees of brush management, suburban-style gardening, native planting, and relative non-management. Regardless of their archetype, however, many of these actors demonstrate a high motivation for various kinds of conservation actions mediated by a desire to enact their idealized vision of the Texas Hill Country landscape on their parcel of land. The archetypes presented in this research are an opportunity to visualize the various idealizations of a natural Texas Hill Country that effect the types of management actions each actor is likely to employ. These actions, in turn, will create emerging exurban ecologies that will shape the future landscapes in these amenity rich regions. Conservation educators and other programmers can work in concert with these landowner variables to strategize the implementation of land management best practices with small acreage landowners in these regions.