Rural community views on the role of local and extralocal interests in public lands governance

Laurie Yung, Michael E. Patterson, Wayne A. Freimund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Based on in-depth interviews with residents on the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana, this article examines how disagreements about the appropriate role of local interests influence local conflict over public lands. Residents who advocated that local interests should be privileged framed the conflict in terms of class, social standing, and fairness. While some residents were clearly venue shopping (advocating the level of decision making where they believed they could achieve their goals), others supported the decision-making level they believed to be most democratic. We found that claims for increased local influence were not necessarily tied to support for development of public lands. Antigovernment sentiment was contributing to local resistance of extralocal proposals, and national attention to the area had further entrenched and polarized local views. Disagreement about the decision-making process and the conflation of conflicts over policy process with conflicts over policy outcome made local disputes over public lands particularly intractable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1186
Number of pages17
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


The authors thank all the residents along the Rocky Mountain Front who generously provided interviews for this research. This project was funded by the Community Forestry Research Fellowships and McIntyre-Stennis programs, and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. We greatly appreciate all of our colleagues who assisted with this project, most especially Jill Belsky, Alan Watson, and John Adams.

FundersFunder number
Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute


    • Community-based conservation
    • Environmental conflict
    • Public lands policy
    • Rural communities
    • Western environmental values


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