CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation


Date of this Version



Center for Applied Rural Innovation,University of Nebraska-Lincoln, August 2012. Center Research Report 2-12. 25 p.


Copyright 2012, Center for Applied Rural Innovation. Used by permission. Also available at:


Natural resources are vital to Nebraska’s economy and quality of life. Policies to protect these valuable natural resources – such as soil and water – ensure that they will be available for future generations. However, development of natural resources for economic gain must often be balanced with these policies. Developing such a compromise is often difficult. What barriers are preventing rural Nebraskans from recycling more? What collection methods are they using to recycle? How do they feel about some of the issues surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline? What priorities do rural Nebraskans give for various uses of land and natural resources? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions.

This report details 2,323 responses to the 2012 Nebraska Rural Poll, the seventeenth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about various natural resources. Comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:

-Many rural Nebraskans say they already recycle a lot and face no barriers. However, many rural Nebraskans cite lack of programs and difficulty getting materials to drop-off sites as barriers to recycling.

-Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to say their community doesn’t offer recycling.

-Most rural Nebraskans say their community offers either curbside pickup or drop-off recycling for all of the materials listed with the exception of glass bottles.

-Most rural Nebraskans are in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline, but think it should be built on an alternate route that avoids the Sandhills and Ogallala aquifer.

-Panhandle residents are more likely than residents of other regions of the state to agree that the pipeline should not be built at all because the environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits.

-Most rural Nebraskans rate water protection and conservation as well as production for community/local food systems as a high priority use of land or natural resources.

-Younger persons are more likely than older persons to rate production for community/local food systems as a high priority.

-Persons with occupations in agriculture are less likely than persons with different occupations to rate recreational activity and wildlife habitat as high priority uses of land or natural resources.