The authors of this article report on a qualitative study of Australian community-based natural resource management groups known as Landcare groups. They discuss how four Landcare groups contributed to sustainability practices and how a policy change implemented in 2003 influenced the efforts of the groups to remain active in their activities. Using case-study methodology and drawing on Habermasian theory to support their work, the authors show that changing administrative structures created a tighter connection among government policies, projects and landholders carrying out natural resource management projects. The tighter connections provide more efficient processes to deliver officially valued outcomes as they are mediated by the catchment management authorities, but that efficiency is achieved at a cost because each landholder is now in competition with other landholders in the catchment to improve his/her own properties. Now the landholders are clients of the system, as private consumers rather than as a local community.