Abstract for: Understanding Conflicts in Natural Resources Management: Using the American Prairie Reserve and their Local Communities

Natural resource management, specifically management that involves the participation of two or more parties, is inevitably met with conflict in some capacity. This is especially true for organizations whose management decisions involve the public as stakeholders. One such organization, the American Prairie Reserve (APR) is a private non-profit organization established in 2001 whose mission is to create the largest nature reserve within the continental United States by stitching together 3.2 million acres. APR wishes to have support for their conservation practices; however, local landowners and neighboring communities have not responded positively to APR’s conservation efforts. Thus, APR seeks to determine ways to mend and improve relationships with local landowners and neighboring communities. The objective for this study is to model the complexity of the conflict using a Systems Thinking (ST) approach. In order to achieve this, a model was built using data from a public perception survey conducted in 2019, along with socio-economic and management data from APR. We predict the model would be able to provide suggestions for how to rebuild the relationship between the two parties and will showcase Systems Thinking and Systems Dynamics ability in mapping similar conflicts in natural resources management.