Graduation Date

Summer 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Erin Kelly

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Laurie Richmond

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Susan Marshall

Subject Categories

Humboldt State University—Theses-Social Science


Ranchers are a part of a rapidly changing rural western American landscape, and they play a special role in protecting and stewarding working landscapes. Rural communities in Eastern Oregon and Northeastern California have deeply rooted identities and economies connected to ranching and a high percentage of federal lands. The aim of this research is to: 1) document how ties to ranching are changing in communities undergoing social and economic change; 2) analyze the relationships and interactions between ranchers and federal management agency representatives; and 3) to identify how ranchers are maintaining their lifestyle under these circumstances. I interviewed representatives of the ranching industry, local government, public land management agency representatives and key community stakeholders in Susanville, California and Prineville, Oregon. These case studies have similar histories, proportions of public land, and natural resources, but differ in terms of their economic adaptation strategies. According to interviewees, their future well-being depends on proactive and collaborative engagement with public land agencies, continuation of heritage economies’ roles in natural resource stewardship, and workforce pathways for the next generation. This research contributes to working landscapes literature of the American West by capturing a regional account of local rancher, rural community, and public land agency relationships in an understudied area.

Citation Style


IRB .pdf (391 kB)