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The Flow of Resilience: A Case Study on Working Land Conservation in the Tule River Watershed

Authors: Derek Emmons*, California State University Long Beach
Topics: Cultural Ecology, Natural Resources, Qualitative Research
Keywords: social-ecological systems, resilience, ecological restoration, riparian corridor, stakeholder analysis, working landscapes
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The long-term ecological health of California’s rural watersheds relies upon the engagement and collaboration of diverse stakeholders. To support Social-Ecological Systems (SES) resilience on a landscape scale, it is necessary to strengthen opportunities for private land managers to share their vision, conflicts, and communicative processes around natural resource stewardship. The intension of this research is to contribute to a dialogue on process-oriented solutions, identify common goals, and build a better understanding of how social and ecological flows influence regenerative land management on the ground level.
This case study examines the social drivers of existing or planned ecological restoration practices on working landscapes in the Tule River watershed of Tulare County, California. Research questions include: 1) Who is engaging in riparian restoration practices and how do these practitioners define stewardship and regenerative land-use? 2) What are the institutional incentives and barriers to past, current, or planned projects and how does this affect implementation strategies?
3) What are stakeholders’ short, medium, and long-term land management goals and how might these be met through collaborative partnerships?
The research methodology consists of ethnographic interviews and surveys with ranchers, land managers, tribal council members, community educators, and government agents. Participants are engaged through snowball sampling, public records, and public agency recommendations. By highlighting the unique context and commonalities surrounding their restoration practices, the intended outcome of this study is to better support communicative flow, reconciliation, and SES connectivity on a watershed scale.

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