- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community planning, community services, employment opportunities, partnerships, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures
The rapid development of shale gas across Pennsylvania’s rural farm and forestland prompted landowners to quickly seek information to guide their leasing decisions in order to increase profits, improve quality of life, and protect the natural resources on their land and in the surrounding region. Many farm and forest landowners in affected areas turned to landowner coalitions as a tool for information sharing and collective action against powerful industry interests, hoping to maintain their ability to control local land use decisions. Little research has been done to evaluate the outcomes attained by coalitions in Pennsylvania or explore how they have affected shale gas development in the region. This project aims to fill this gap by examining the impacts of landowner coalitions specifically for farmers and farming communities. The project will first describe the processes used by farm landowners to engage in these coalitions and identify their set objectives. Second, the project will measure the social, economic, and environmental effects coalitions have had on individual farms and the local community and landscape. Ultimately the project will assess the extent to which this type of collective action among farming landowners is a useful model for management of future land use changes to affect farming communities. Primary data will be collected in the form of semi-structured interviews and focus groups to compare outcomes for farmers who joined a coalition to those who leased individually. Results will be disseminated through presentations and publications made available through project collaborators, Penn State Extension, and peer-reviewed journals.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Assess the impact of Marcellus Shale development landowner coalitions on the long-term sustainability of farmers and farming communities in Pennsylvania using relevant background information and primary data from landowner coalitions, their advisors, and experts in the northeast and southwest regions of Pennsylvania (included in proposed budget).
2. Evaluate the landowner coalition’s ability to serve as a model of collective action for farmers in the Northeastern United States to control land use decisions surrounding future issues on the rural landscape (included in proposed budget).
3. Identify evidence-based recommendations for best practices and procedures for future landowner coalitions to be distributed to farmers, their advisors, and experts throughout the state and presented at both academic and key stakeholder meetings (included in proposed budget).