Year of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department or School/College
College of Forestry and Conservation
Michael E. Patterson
Laurie Yung, Martin Nie, David Naugle
conflict, frames, narratives, natural resource conflict, sage-grouse
University of Montana
The tense conflict over sage grouse management in the West, where livelihoods have been pitted against the possibility of an endangered species listing, has been ongoing for many years and has been described as being as tense as the spotted owl conflict in the Northwest in the 1990s. This research is designed to highlight the different frames or narratives within the sage grouse debate in Sublette County, Wyoming while exploring a resurging research methodology. Q methodology, a method intended to identify distinct viewpoints within a sample was employed to understand the different narratives among these conflict parties. The Q method suggested three distinct viewpoints or knowledge communities existed within the sample: ultra locals, classic biologists and harmonizers. Ultra locals largely consisted of ranchers (75%) and others dependent on the land for their livelihood and showed a strong preference for local county management that included local information. The narratives of the classic biologists, a group consisting solely of biologists working for agencies, consulting firms and conservation organizations, preferred that science and research point the way to a solution. Finally, agency biologists and energy industry employees made up the final group identified, the harmonizers. This group favored working with all stakeholders to work together to build a solution. A number of areas of agreement including the lack of support for an ESA listing, and disagreement such as the role of predators on sage grouse populations were highlighted. To move forward on the conflict, this research suggests that instead of pursuing issues that may only serve to increase the conflict, such as issues of predators or sources of knowledge, a path forward may be found in merging the livelihood interests of ranchers with the preservation interests of biologists. Results also show that the Q method was helpful in pinpointing distinct viewpoints on sage grouse management in Sublette County; however, without the use of an in-depth interview, the Q method results may have been difficult to clearly and meaningfully interpret.
Essen, Maureen A., "Ruffled Feathers: Shared narratives in the sage-grouse management conflict in Sublette County, Wyoming" (2010). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 849.
© Copyright 2010 Maureen A. Essen