Creating Voluntary Payment Programs: Effective Program Design and Ranchers’ Willingness to Conserve Florida Panther Habitat

Melissa M. Kreye, Elizabeth F. Pienaar, José R. Soto and Damian C. Adams


Landowner resistance to Endangered Species Act regulations is a key conservation challenge. In 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that a mix of payments for ecosystem services and regulatory assurances be implemented to encourage cattle ranchers’ participation in Florida panther recovery efforts. To identify cattle ranchers’ preferences for the proposed programs, we implemented a best-worst scaling choice experiment. Our results suggest that voluntary conservation programs are most likely to enroll politically conservative landowners if these programs provide per acre payments or tax reductions, are of shorter duration, and do not require overly intrusive or restrictive levels of monitoring to ensure compliance. (JEL Q57, Q58)

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