~ CHAPTER 5 ~
ECONOMICS, POLITICS, LAW AND HISTORY OF GRAZING (Continued)
Edition 6, July 2007 (Updated December 2010)

Sections (5-A) and (5-B) of this Chapter 5 are in another file. (og5c.html) 

(5-A) ~ Grazing Land Economic Issues ~ [A1] Desertification Costs, [A2] Water for Grazing, [A3]~US Grazing Fees, [A4] Grazing Economics, [A5] Economics of Alternatives to Grazing, [A6]~Grazing Subsidies, [A7] Land Ownership Patterns, [A8] Feedlot/ Meatpacker Data,
(5-B) ~ Meat- and Wool Production, Consumption, Exports, Prices ~ [B1] Meat, Milk and Wool Production, [B2] Meat, Milk and Wool Consumption, [B3] Side Effects of Meat Consumption, [B4]~Meat and Wool Exports, [B5] Feedlot/ Meatpacker Data, [B6] Meat/ Wool Prices,

~ Table of Contents:

(5-C) ~ Side-Effects of Overgrazing ~ [C1] Plants, [C2] Wildlife, [C3] Water, [C4] Forests and Forest Fires, [C5] People, [C6]~Livestock, [C7]~Public Access to Public Lands, [C8]~Dust storms,~
(5-D) ~ Politics of Grazing ~ [D1]~Anger against federal employees and environmentalists, [D2]~ USFS, [D3] BLM, [D4]~Grazing Fee Politics, [D5] Overgrazing Politics, [D6] Subsidy Politics, [D7] Emergency Feed Program Politics, [D8] Public Opinion, [D9]~Foreign Grazing Politics, [D10]~ Grazing Permit Buyouts,
(5-E) ~ Grazing Laws ~ [E1] Major Federal Laws (Chronological order) , [E2] Grazing Permits, [E3]~Grazing on Western Public Lands - Right or Privilege, [E4] Lawsuits, [E5] Indian Lands, [E6]~ State Laws, [E7] National (US) Wildlife Refuges, [E8]~Asia, [E9]~Europe,
(5-F) ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ [F1] General, [F2] Oceania, [F3] Africa, [F4]~ Iceland, [F5] Asia, [F6] Major Grasslands of Centuries Past, [F7] US Deserts, [F8] Early US Wildlife, [F9] Early US Livestock Populations, [F10] Latin America, [F11]~Native Prairie, [F12]~Trees and Shrubs on Grasslands,~
(5-G) ~ Livestock-Generated Wastes ~
(5-H) ~
Grain-Grass Substitution ~ [H1] Global, [H2] US, [H3] Outside US,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - og5c
NOTE: The notation (su3) means that the data is used in the document analyzing the sustainability of the productivity of the world's food, fiber and water supply systems. (See elsewhere in this website.)

SECTION (5-C) ~ Side-Effects of Overgrazing ~ [C1] Plants, [C2] Wildlife, [C3] Water, [C4] Forests and Forest Fires, [C5]~People, [C6]~Livestock, [C7]~Public Access to Public Lands, [C8]~Dust storms

Part [C1] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Plants ~

Field observations and experiments indicate that mesquite trees initiate permanent invasions of North American grasslands by woody plants. These invasions, as individual trees appear in the grassland and become foci for clusters of other shrubs that develop in their vicinity. Livestock apparently play a dual role in mesquite invasion. First, they eat mesquite beans and disperse the seeds in their dung. Second, they graze away grass cover that otherwise can (1) out-compete mesquite seedlings and (2) carry fires that kill young woody plants." ((95B2): p. 200).

"A review of the literature suggests that non-indigenous plants will continue to spread through arid and semi-arid grasslands, shrub lands, and woodlands in the western US unless selective grazing, nutrient redistribution, and soil disturbances by livestock are greatly reduced." (00G1).

"Reports of serious weed infestations in non-grazed [by livestock], undisturbed grasslands and shrub lands appear to be limited." (00G1).

Non-indigenous plant species are most likely to invade sites that experience disturbances that differ in type or frequency from their natural disturbance regimes. Native wildlife species do not appear to be major causes of weed invasions (97S1).

Water tanks and ponds developed for livestock, and the roads constructed to access them, act as loci for weed spread. These disturbed sites are highly invisible (85R3) (87T1), and act as conduits for invasion into surrounding communities (00G1).

Invasion by non-indigenous species are suspected of being the second main cause, following loss of habitat, for the listing of all threatened and endangered species in the US (94F1) (98W1).

Alien annual grasses such as cheatgrass and medusahead and forbs such as starthistles, knapweeds and leafy spurge have invaded over 400,000 km2 of Western grasslands, shrub lands, and woodlands (89M1) (90W2) (90B2) (94P2).

Under natural conditions, forage goes into native species that subsequently die and contribute to a closed nutrient-cycling loop. When cows eat forage and are then removed, the nutrient-cycling loop is no longer closed, and hence is subject to degradation ((91J1): pp. 111-121) ((93P1): pp. 10-13).

Herbicide is used to kill sagebrush, snakeweed, mesquite, acacia, shadscale, greasewood, creosote, scrub oak, manzanita, rabbitbrush, other brush and shrubs, juniper, pinyon, tamarisk, cacti, yucca, and a great variety of "weedy" plants and livestock-unpalatable grasses ((91J1): pp. 237-238).

Livestock grazing is frequently accompanied by the massive manipulation of vegetation to increase forage production. This includes such practices as herbicide spraying, plowing and seeding, mechanical control such as chaining (the practice of removing brush by dragging a heavy anchor chain between two Caterpillar tractors), and controlled fire ((95C1): p. 78).

Of the five plant species placed on the National Endangered Species List in August and September of 1989, three were victims of grazing (91J1).

In Hawaii, livestock grazing, pasture-clearing, development, and introduction of exotic species have caused 10% of the 1250 species of flowering plants that were present 200 years ago to become extinct (91J1).

The original US Tallgrass prairie is considered extinct as a fully functional natural ecosystem (p. 45 of (91J1)).

94% of California's interior broadleaf woodlands have been significantly damaged or destroyed, largely by livestock (p. 53 of (91J1)).

Since the beginning of European settlement, the abundance of many native species of grasses has been drastically reduced, and the number of alien species, mostly annuals, has invaded the sagebrush-grass regions. The vegetation of the region appears to have been altered more in the past 100 years than in the previous thousands (81T1).

A study of the ecological health of a 100-acre isolated mesa-top on Tonto National Forest in northeastern Arizona by USFS range ecologists found significantly healthier soils and plant communities than on adjacent national forest land open to grazing. The study, published in the April 2000 issue of Rangelands, concluded "the most striking aspect of Dutchwoman Butte is the diversity, density and vigor of the grasses." The study found 12 species of grass on Dutchwoman Butte-most of them knee and waist high - but found only 2 species of grass on a typical grazed area of a nearby grazing allotment. In addition, grasses created a 40% canopy cover on the ungrazed area, but only 16% on the grazed area. The study, whose primary purpose was to define a baseline of soil health in this region of the Sonora Desert, also found much higher soil infiltration rates-and lower erosion rates-on Dutchwoman Butte. The study further demonstrates that ongoing and historic livestock grazing cause severe erosion problems that continue to harm rivers and streams and the species that depend on them (Source: John C. Horning, Watershed Protection Program, Forest Guardians, 1411 Second Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505 505-988-9126 505-989-8623 fax http://www.fguardians.org).

Effects of over-grazing on plants (86G1):

Part [C2] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Wildlife ~

Co-use of ranges by domestic and bighorn sheep has been consistently linked with declines, die offs, and extinctions of bighorn populations from historical to recent times (82G1).

Ref. (57B1) reported 30-40% losses of pronghorn fawn crops on rangelands heavily grazed by domestic sheep in South Dakota. Ref. (57B1) also reported that pronghorn had higher parasite loads on rangelands grazed by domestic sheep than rangelands grazed by cattle. In Wyoming, illness and deaths of pronghorn fawns have been attributed to parasitic infections that were prevalent on rangelands grazed heavily by sheep. ((96Y1) p. 221).

Blue tongue is probably the most serious disease of pronghorn. Cattle are a primary reservoir for this disease. Cattle do not develop clinical or acute symptoms, but are chronic carriers (83T2) ((96Y1): p. 219).

Among ungulate species, bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope have declined the most, each existing at less than 5% of their primeval numbers ((78W3): p. 139).

The prairie dog is a keystone species upon which approximately 170 vertebrate species rely for survival. Eradication of prairie dogs from large areas has led to near extinction of black-footed ferrets. Mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks and swift foxes have been proposed as candidate species under the US Endangered Species Act, and their listing proposals cited prairie dog poisoning as a factor in their decline (94M2).

As of 1919, prairie dog colonies covered 400,000 km2, more than 20% of the short-grass prairie landscape in the US. Today 98% of those populations have been eradicated in an ongoing control effort by range managers who view prairie dogs as pests that reduce the amount of grass available to cattle. Prairie dogs provide food or shelter for many other animals, from pronghorn antelope and bison to mice and burrowing owls. The defensive encampments they build attract predators, e.g. hawks, coyotes, snakes, badgers, bobcats, black-footed ferrets ((97B4): pp. 165-6).

Types of animals killed on behalf of the livestock industry: grizzly bear, black bear, wolf, coyote, fox, mountain lion, jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi, golden eagle, bald eagle, California condor, raven, deer, pronghorn, bighorn, buffalo, elk, horse, burro, prairie dog, jackrabbit, kangaroo rat, pocket mouse, pocket gopher, grasshopper, rattlesnake, etc. ((91J1): pp. 252-314).

In fiscal year 1996 Wildlife Services killed nearly 100,000 predators in the West. Livestock protection accounts for 69% of its Western state office expenditures of federally appropriated funds. Aerial gunning and spring-loaded sodium cyanide traps are the most common methods of lethal predator control used by Wildlife Services in the West, and neither of these methods is able to only target depredating individuals (97P2).

Wildlife tends to shun stock watering tanks. Many large wild animals actively avoid cattle and/ or sheep (and their smell), and thus tanks ((90J1) pp. 216-7).

Although most North American ungulates can move through or over traditional three-wire barbed-wire fences, problems exist. First, not all fences are as loosely constructed, and tighter fences such as woven wire can severely impede movement of native wildlife. Pronghorn antelope are particularly limited in their ability to cross fences, and woven wire fences can effectively fragment their habitat and ultimately cause population decreases or extirpation. Second, even though species such as mule deer can and do easily jump fences, some (especially juveniles) get tangled in them and die every year ((94N2) p. 241).

Analysis of elk/ cattle interactions from a Statement by the late Joy Belsky in a letter of 1/7/00 to the Atlantic Monthly:

Cattle graze the aboveground shoots and leaves of grasses, some of which are old. The plant, because it is programmed to maintain a fixed root/ shoot ratio depending on growth stage, regrows, using stored resources in the root crown and roots. The resulting growth is green, succulent, and usually of higher quality than the older leaves because young leaves normally have a higher nitrogen content than older leaves, which have more cell wall materials). Elk like this young, succulent stuff a lot. The problems are:

A review paper by wildlife biologists Dr. Michael Wisdom and former US Forest Service Chief Dr. Jack Ward Thomas entitled "Rangeland Wildlife", edited by Paul R. Krausman and published in a book by the Society of Range Management (some time before 2000) states "elk avoid or decrease their use of areas grazed concurrently by cattle", citing 8 scientific studies. After discussing various research results, they concluded that "the trend seems evident: with the onset of cattle grazing, elk use shifts to areas unoccupied by cattle."

The Arizona Game and Fish Department identified 137 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals that may face extinction if current habitat trends continue. 80% of these species are strongly affected by the destruction of riparian habitats. Livestock grazing is by far the most common land-use in Arizona (p. 94 of (91J1)).

Bighorn sheep populations in the Southwestern US have been hit hard by livestock-spread diseases. Arizona Game and Fish now spends about $500,000/ year on efforts to recover and relocate bighorn sheep to some of their historic ranges.([50] in (99W2)) Hunters, not ranchers, frequently foot this bill (99W2).

A major program supporting ranching is the federal program known as Animal Damage Control (ADC), or Wildlife Services. The bulk of the $756,126 spent by Arizona's ADC in FY97 went toward killing wildlife to aid the livestock industry ([45] in (99W2)). ADC reported that it killed 3,220 animals including 1,528 coyotes, 54 beavers, 43 mountain lions, and 15 black bears. ADC even kills wildlife for ranchers in federal wilderness areas, in violation of the 1964 Wilderness Act ([46] in (99W2)).

Of 1207 plant- and animal species listed as endangered, threatened or proposed for listing, mining affects 11%, logging affects 12%, and livestock grazing affects 22%. (See "Quantifying Threats to Imperiled Species in the US," in Bioscience (8/98).)

Today, western US bighorns number 20-30,000 - perhaps 1% of their former population (p. 117 of (91J1)).

Today 70,000 pronghorns inhabit the 11 western US states - 5% of their original numbers (p. 117 of (91J1)).

The current western-US moose population of several thousand is a fraction of what it once was (p. 117 of (91J1)).

Species that have declined partly because of livestock grazing include Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, bison, salmon, bull trout, and possibly neo-tropical bird species (94O1).

Poisoning of prairie dogs has reduced their numbers by more than 98% over the past century (94O1).

On BLM lands in southwest Idaho, managers routinely allocate 30-100 times as much forage for cows and sheep as for antelope and deer (85E1).

The BLM and USFS manage their land for only 1% as many deer, elk, bighorn sheep and antelope as cows and sheep (87L1). Comments: This is apparently a national figure.

Grazing is also allowed in most of the larger western US wildlife refuges, e.g. grazing is permitted in 103 of 109 wildlife refuges on the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Rocky Mountain region (89W1).

A law passed to extend cattle grazing for Utah ranchers into Capital Reef National Park (82M1). A range specialist did a study that showed the park being over-grazed by 200-400% (82M1).

A survey of all vertebrate species in Arizona and New Mexico found that 75-80% depend on riparian habitats for at least part of the year. The Nature Conservancy lists the riparian cottonwood community as the rarest of 104 major plant communities in the US. In Arizona and New Mexico, cottonwood-willow communities are home to 100 species of threatened and endangered species. Less than 3% of Arizona's original endowment of riparian vegetation remains, representing 0.001% of Arizona's land area (89W1).

Some adverse effects of over-grazing on wildlife outlined in Ref. (87M1):

Defenders of Wildlife*#* announced (12/30/99) that it has paid almost $50,000 to compensate ranchers for livestock losses from wolf and grizzly activity in 1999. The conservation group asserted that its pioneering program to compensate ranchers for livestock predation continues to buy tolerance for wolves and grizzly bears. The 1999 compensation figures total almost $50,000 with $35,070 paid for wolf incidences and $14,001 paid for grizzly occurrences. Of the $35,070 paid in wolf compensation, $2,152 was paid in Arizona for predation by recently reintroduced Mexican wolves. Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 380,000 members and supporters.
*#* Defenders of Wildlife, 1534 Mansfield Ave, Missoula MT 59801.

Defenders Compensation Program by the Numbers
Wolves:
1999 | $35,070
1998 | $12,156
1997 | $32,690

Wolf total 1987-99: 108 ranchers paid $105,747
Wolf Totals by Region:
Yellowstone National Park population ~ ~ ~ | $26,682
Central Idaho population ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | $34,722
Montana (naturally recolonizing) population| $41,725
Mexican Wolves in Arizona~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~$2,618
Grizzly Bears:
Defenders compensates ranchers for predation by grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide and, starting in 1999, Yellowstone ecosystems.
1999: $14,001// 1998: $12,893// 1997: $ 8,500
Grizzly bear total 1997-99: 53 ranchers paid $35,394
Grizzly Bear Totals by Region:
Yellowstone Ecosystem~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |$ 1904
Blackfeet Reservation~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |$ 6319
Remainder of Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem |$ 5778

Wildlife species requiring undisturbed habitat or high quality landscape have declined on western grazing lands. The Bruneau Hot Springs Snail, the willow flycatcher and the Bonneville cutthroat trout are all endangered as a consequence of habitat loss or degradation due to livestock production (99W1).

Grassland nesting birds are "declining more than any North American species" (GREENLines, 9/10/99).

Many species, e.g. bighorn sheep and antelope, while at higher numbers in the past (when they were subject to market- and year-around meat hunting), are still far below their potential because domestic livestock use continues to compromise the available habitat in ways detrimental to these species (99W1).

Livestock production can increase the numbers of a few wildlife species (e.g. brown-headed cowbirds, carp, whitetail deer), these are, without exception, animals that are widespread and abundant, and that thrive on disturbed or degraded habitats (99W1).

A number of recent review articles looking at livestock effects on wildlife, found that far more species have decreased or been harmed by livestock production than have benefited (99W1). Other literature reviews have concluded that livestock production was the leading cause of decline in native plant species in the West, as well as one of the major agents responsible for the spread of weeds and exotics (99W1).

Part [C3] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Water ~ Nearly 90% of the water taken out of streams in the Colorado River basin is used for irrigation to grow hay and other crops for livestock, according to a 1982 Living Wilderness article (90W3).

About 90% of water taken from streams in the Colorado River basin is used for irrigation to grow hay and other crops for livestock (p. 215 of (91J1)).

Stream channel fenced from livestock afforded the opportunity to compare sediment loads above (in livestock-grazed area) and below the fenced area. Sampling done at three run-off periods showed reduction in sediment loads of 79%, 48% and 69% after flowing through 3.5 miles of protected channel ((77W2): p. 12).

Nearly all surface waters in the West are fouled with livestock-related contaminants (86S1).

Livestock production is the greatest source of non-point water pollution in the West (90R1).

Developing water sources for livestock often involves taking water from streams, springs, or seeps, where it was used by native plants and animals, and moving it somewhere else for livestock. In other cases, springs have been drilled, resulting in overuse of aquifers and eventual drying up of water sources historically used by native species ((94N2) p. 242, 244).

95% of Arizona's surface waters are polluted. Livestock are the leading cause (p. 107 of (91J1)).

Cattle represent the West's largest source of non-point water pollution. Nearly all surface waters of the western US are fouled with livestock-related contaminants (p.107 of (91J1)).

Stockmen (livestock) account for over 50% of California water use (p. 215 of (91J1)).

Some 97.5% of Montana water is used for some form of livestock production (p. 215 of (91J1)).

Livestock production accounts for more than 70% of water consumed in the 11 western states. In nearly half of the west (generally the most arid portions) in an average year, 70% or more of all surface water is taken, mostly for livestock production (p. 215 of (91J1)).

Lake Chad (Africa?) has shrunk to 20% of its size around 1970, mostly due to livestock-caused desertification and livestock production practices (p. 362 of (91J1)).

Part [C4] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Forests and Forest Fires ~

By reducing the abundance of fine fuels that formerly carried frequent, low-intensity fires through forests, livestock contribute to the formation of shade-tolerant, but fire-sensitive dense stands highly susceptible to damage by insects and pathogens. This further contributes to the likelihood of stand-replacing fires. An example of the difference in forest density that can result from livestock grazing was provided (51R1). Two areas, distinguished only by the grazing of livestock, differed markedly in the density of small-diameter trees: 85 trees/ acre in the non-grazed region compared to 3291 trees/ acre in the grazed region (97B2).

Negative effects of prescribed burning:

On the overgrazed lands of the southwestern US, fire suppression has allowed woody species such as big sagebrush, pinyon pine, and juniper to invade millions of acres of what were previously grasslands or mixed grassland/ shrub-lands, profoundly changing their ecological characteristics ((95C1): pp. 69-70).

More than 260 million acres of US forests have been cleared specifically for livestock (an area the size of Texas and California combined) (p. 230 of (91J1)).

More than 2/3 of the 70 million acres of US forests cleared during 1967-75 were converted to grazing land (p. 231 of (91J1)).

More than 60% of Mexico's original rainforest has been destroyed - largely to create cattle pasture (p. 355 of (91J1)).

Since 1970, farmers and ranchers have converted more than 200,000 km2 of Latin America's moist tropical forest to cattle pasture (91D1). Comments: These converted tropical pastures last 5-10 years before they must be abandoned for 20-30 years to restore soil fertility (91D1).

Prior to Euro-American settlement during 1820-90, the arid and semi-arid (low- to mid-elevations) forests of the Intermountain West (Cascade/ Sierra Nevada to Rocky Mountains) maintained the trees at low densities by competitive exclusion of tree seedlings by dense understory grasses and frequent thinning of understory trees by low-density surface fires which did not harm the larger trees. Grazing eliminated much of the grass, and reduced surface fire frequency by consuming the herbaceous vegetation which otherwise would have dried into the fine fuels necessary to carry the fire. This resulted in many small trees in the understory, and fires that were far more lethal to large trees (97B2). Sharp increases in tree density have led to less productive and aesthetically pleasing forests, reduced nutrient cycling, widespread insect infestations, greater tree mortality, increased fuel buildup and increased fire density. These changes have been attributed almost entirely to fire exclusion, which prevents the natural thinning of younger trees and promotes high grading. (97B2) As forests grew denser they became shadier, resulting in more shade-tolerant (but less fire-resistant) tree species such as Douglas fir, grand fir, and white fir (97B2).

Below is a statement from Tom Ribe <tribe@swadventures.com> Santa Fe NM 5/15/00 (who has studied the northern New Mexico area extensively) 5/15/00 on the Cerro Grande Fire and grazing history:
Northern New Mexico was grazed heavily with sheep and cows in the 1880s. (Spanish grazing at lower intensity began in 1600.) When the railroads arrived, cows and sheep from Texas were set free across the mountains and valley. What is now Bandelier National Monument (managed by NPS) was grazed so heavily before the NPS got it, that all grass was gone from the lower mesas, and pinon and juniper and sage replaced it. As a result, today the lower mesas have catastrophic sheet erosion in the spaces between the "trees". (
Continued below)

The Cerro Grande Fire in May, 2000 (which destroyed parts of Las Alamos) is/was in the middle elevations that is mixed conifer and ponderosa pine. That area was also grazed heavily before the USFS took over as described above. Many sheep and cows ranged through the once open grass and old growth forest between 1880 and 1943. Unregulated grazing decimated the grass. Grass was replaced by tree seedlings that grew in great thickets below old giant trees. For the most part, the US Forest Service has done nothing about this condition. (Continued below)

In the 1950s the US Forest Service removed grazing from this area but kept a tight lid on fire. The National Park Service has done extensive research on fire frequency. It shows natural lightning fires running through most acres of the Jemez Mountains every 5-15 years before fire suppression in 1910. The result of fire suppression was tremendous loads of pine needles, dead logs, thickets of poles and lost grasslands that once were limited by fire. The NPS has been reintroducing fire on the 35,000-acre Bandelier National Monument. The prescribed burn that escaped (and damaged Los Alamos) was intended to restore montane grasslands and 9000-foot-elevation mixed conifer forests. While the conditions were right for fire in the area, unexpected winds blew embers into a canyon below and the humidity dropped. The fire burned through USFS lands which have received no prescribed burning at all, and no natural fire since 1910. The Cerro Grande Fire swept through this landscape, originally distorted by unregulated grazing and further distorted by fire suppression. Thus we can attribute the intensity of the blaze in large part to grazing ) (Statement from Tom Ribe <tribe@swadventures.com> Santa Fe NM 5/15/00 who has studied the northern New Mexico area extensively)

The work of scientists like Dr. Steven Pyne at Arizona State University and the late Dr. Joy Belsky (96B3) in has shown how a history of fire suppression and continued policies of grazing on public grasslands and forests are the underlying causes of today's destructive fires, particularly in the southwestern US. Native grasses are keystone species in ponderosa pine ecosystems of the Southwest. They prevent erosion, help water soak down into the aquifer and provide wildlife habitat. But they also play a key role in forest structure. Before cows and sheep invaded the Western forests and grasslands, historical evidence tells us that "forest fires" were mostly cool grass fires, and grass fires were widespread every year. Frequent grass fires stopped fuel accumulation on the forest floor and thinned out pine seedlings. (Continued below)

With the arrival of sheep and cows, the normal fire cycle was broken. Pine seedlings began to survive in great abundance. With overgrazing, and fire suppression by Forest Service managers, young trees began to grow in dense thickets and fuel began to accumulate to dangerous levels. Pretty soon fires became disastrous, climbing into the canopy and destroying the entire forest. The Forest Service has changed fire policy and now conducts prescribed burns. (Continued below)

Scientists have long known that overgrazing is the first cause of destructive fires in the Western pine forests. Tree-ring studies show that the upsurge of large fires in the late 1800s predates the practice of fire suppression, and suggests that overgrazing by livestock played the primary role. The Forest Service contends that overgrazing is a problem of the past and that grazing is now moderate enough to correct the problem. Although cattle numbers have gone down since last century, almost half the grass is still eaten by cattle in most Southwestern grazing allotments. It is hard to see how this could be considered a "moderate" impact. Studies have shown that removal of cattle permits forests to return to a normal fire cycle.

Originally, most Ponderosa Pine and mixed-conifer forests of the Intermountain West were open and park-like, with large, majestic trees underlain by dense grass swards. Due to nearly a century of active fire prevention, fire fighting, and livestock grazing, which eliminates the fine fuels necessary to carry low-intensity surface fires, even greater numbers of tree seedlings and saplings have survived to maturity. Forests that were once open and park-like due to periodic thinning by low-intensity ground fire now develop into dense thickets. Many forests in the region have not been significantly affected by recent changes in the fire regime. Riparian forests and wetter forests on north-facing slopes and at higher elevations traditional experienced fewer fires. And forest types such as high-elevation Lodgepole Pine and Engelmann Spruce-subalpine Fir have always developed into dense flammable forests, which were periodically consumed by stand-replacing fires (96B3).

Taylor calls for grazing cut reductions in western national forests to improved forest health and reduce the risk of high intensity forest fire. He explains that native grasses are ecologically critical to ponderosa pine and open Douglas-fir forests. The grasses are the primary carriers of cool-burning ground fires that thin out small trees before they develop into thickets. Native grasses also compete vigorously with trees, often preventing them establishing, thereby keeping forests relatively open. When cattle strip off the grass, they prevent ground fires from thinning forests and they remove the main competition limiting tree regeneration. The result is millions of acres of western forests becoming overly dense with small trees and susceptible to very intense stand replacing fires (Martin Taylor (Center for Biological Diversity's grazing reform coordinator), editorial in the Tucson Citizen, 8/25/03).

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report of 9-1-00 concluding that lower logging levels on National Forests over the last decade did not contribute to intense forest fires this summer. While the timber industry has blamed lack of logging for the fires, the CRS, Congress's research arm, found that there was no correlation between declines in logging and fire intensity or extent.

A study by the Congressional Research Service have refuted claims by timber industry supporters that the West's wildfires are related to reduced commercial logging. The CRS report found that commercial logging even "increases the rate of spread of wildfire." (ENS, 9/5/00).

A report by the Pacific Biodiversity Institute found that "only 31% of the acreage burned" was on national forests. Most wildfires occurred on managed timberland that had already been logged, and 38% of burned areas were in roadless or wilderness areas (Environmental News Service, 9/5/00).

The National Interagency Fire Center has some illuminating statistics on fires in the US at http://www.nifc.gov/stats/wildlandfirestats.html. Here's a summary as of 9/16/00:
Period - -| Average Acres Burned
(Decade) -| per Year (nationwide)
1919-1929 | 26,004,567
1930-1939 | 39,143,195
1940-1949 | 22,919,898
1950-1959 | ~9,415,796
1960-1969 | ~4,571,255
1970-1979 | ~3,194,421
1980-1989 | ~4,236,229
1990-1999 | ~3,647,597

Fires in SE Idaho (summer 2000) from the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center
Ownership - - -|Acres Burned
BLM~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 135,757
National Forest| ~ 7,455
Fort Hall BIA~ | ~38,431
State/Private~ | ~51,621
Total~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 233,264

The table above shows that 3.2% of the fires were on National Forest land. The principal habitat burned was on BLM sagebrush land, State and Indian Lands, again mostly sagebrush. The problem is that cattle grazing has turned these areas into sagebrush thickets, dried out the soil and made the area into a tinderbox. The same is true where these habitats exist on Forest Lands. It would behoove everyone to consider what the absence of grazing and desertification would mean. These areas would have grasses, mosses and soil moisture. In addition, once burned, the sagebrush would become less dominant leaving grassland and those burned rather frequently.

Timber harvest, through its effects on forest structure, local microclimate, and fuels accumulation, has increased fire severity more than any other recent human activity (Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, 1996. Final Report to Congress http://www.wildfireinfo.org/logging_science.html)

"Logged areas generally show a strong association with increased rate of spread and flame length, thereby suggesting that tree harvesting could affect the potential fire behavior within landscapes. (Historical and Current Forest Landscapes in Eastern Oregon and Washington. Part II: Linking Vegetation Characteristics to Potential Fire Behavior and Related Smoke Production).

Fire severity has generally increased and fire frequency has generally decreased over the last 200 years. The primary causative factors behind fire regime changes are effective fire prevention and suppression strategies, selection and regeneration cutting, domestic livestock grazing, and the introduction of exotic plants (Integrated Scientific Assessment for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia Basin).

Logging removes fire resistant material (large trees), while increasing highly flammable materials (bark, small branches, small-diameter trees) and leaving behind materials that have a high surface area to volume ratio. In the absence of a natural fire regime that allows for the removal of these materials by periodic low intensity fires, logging creates conditions that are ripe for catastrophic fire.

There is no foundation for the contention that environmental groups have interfered with the implementation of fuel management projects on the part of the USFS. A report dated 8/31/01 by the US General Accounting Office in fact concluded that appeals and litigation on the part of environmental groups has had nothing to do with the recent increase in catastrophic fires. This report states, "In summary, as of 7/18/01, the USFS had completed the necessary environmental analyses and had decided to implement 1671 hazardous fuel reduction projects in fiscal year 2001. Of these projects, 20 (about 1%) had been appealed and none had been litigated. Appellants included environmental groups, recreation groups, private industry interests, and individuals." This report may be found in its entirety on the GAO's web site, http://www.gao.gov/.

Prior to grazing, these forests had fire regimes of frequent, low intensity fires fueled by fine grassy fuels. Grazing removed those fuels, meaning that the beneficial effects of low-intensity fires was limited or reduced, and fire suppression to benefit both grazing and commercial timber harvest interests meant that additional changes in forest structure occur, as noted in the article below. Grazing changes vegetative structure of national forests, and is another reason we should prohibit the practice on these publicly owned lands (02M3).

Ponderosa pine forests of the Colorado Plateau have evolved over thousands of years. Over this time the tree has developed several adaptations that help it survive in its dry, often warm habitat. A once common occurrence in these forests that has shaped the pine's particular ecological adaptations is wildfire. Recent studies indicate that the ponderosa pine forests on the southern plateau near Flagstaff, Arizona and along the Mogollon Rim were subjected to low-intensity ground fires perhaps every 2-12 years over historical time. However, beginning in the early 1900's this pattern of fire drastically changed. A fire suppression policy implemented by the US Forest Service and other land management agencies at this time greatly decreased the occurrence of fire in these forests. The absence of reoccurring fire, coupled with widespread logging and grazing of forestlands, has led to unforeseen changes in forest composition, structure and ecology (02M3). (Continued below)

Today's forest is often characterized by dense "dog-hair" thickets of young pines with a thick accumulation of litter on the forest floor. Previously, many pine forests of the region were open stands of large, old ponderosa pine underlain by an understory of native grasses. Small fires maintained this open structure by killing seedlings and encouraging growth of grasses. Some ecologists recognized this change in the nature of these pine forests as a possible problem as early as the 1930s, but changes in forest management did not occur until the 1970s. Fires in many of today's ponderosa pine forests are no longer low-intensity ground fires but rather catastrophic, stand-replacing crown fires (02M3). (Continued below)

From about 1910 to approximately 1990, the amount of acres burned by wildfire in Arizona and New Mexico oscillated between a few thousand acres to 60,000 acres annually. Beginning in 1992 the number of acres burned between the two states has skyrocketed, with over 180,000 acres burning in 1997. Prior to fire suppression, fires in the pine forests of the region behaved in a somewhat predictable manner. The forest ecosystem of today, in contrast, has possibly reached a point of unstable criticality. A lightning strike may lead to a few trees burning, a few acres burning, or a catastrophic stand-replacing fire sweeping over thousands of acres of forest. Land managers and scientists are no longer able to predict with much confidence what direction fires in the ponderosa pine forests of the Colorado Plateau and the whole Southwest might take (02M3).

"This idea of `unnatural fuel buildup" (Brown 1983) was originally developed for Pinus ponderosa ecosystems in the interior West of the US, where a historic regime of frequent surface fires had maintained open-canopy conditions. Unfortunately, this fuel-buildup idea has been uncritically and inappropriately applied to closed-canopy ecosystems that have always had crown-fire regimes. Keeley and Fotheringham (01K1) explain why this concept is not valid for California shrublands, and they present evidence that the pre-suppression fire regime had been one of stand-replacing crown fires. Ref. (01J1) shows that the idea of unnatural fuel buildup is also invalid for the boreal and sub-alpine forest, another closed-canopy ecosystem with a crown-fire regime (Johnson 1992). Despite differences in climate and vegetation between chaparral and boreal forest, many of the basic arguments and explanations presented are similar to those of Keeley and Fotheringham (01K1) (01J1).

Some ecosystems, such as yellow pine forests, have had a long history of frequent surface fires but because of fire suppression policy, fires have been largely excluded from them during the last century (Covington 2000). Unnatural fuel accumulation in these forests has increased the potential for large, catastrophic crown fires, and reintroduction of prescribed fire is one remedy for this critical fire hazard. But fire ecologists and fire managers need to be cautious in transferring this model to all western ecosystems (Anderson et al. 1999, Gutsell et al. 2001) (01K1).

Part [C5] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ People ~

Rural Populations Affected by Severe Desertification (in millions) (UNEP data)
Sudano-Sahelian ~ ~ |27.5 | China and Mongolia~ | 6.5
Africa south of S-S |25.0 | Australia ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 0.03
Mediterranean Africa| 8.5 | Mediterranean Europe| 6.0
Western Asia~ ~ ~ ~ |16.0 | North America ~ ~ ~ |13.5
South Asia~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |29.0 | S. America/ Mexico~ | 1.2
USSR in Asia~ ~ ~ ~ | 2.0 |

Part [C6] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Livestock ~

In the Indian state of Rajasthan and Karnataka, fodder supplies for grazing animals satisfies 50-80% of need, leaving large numbers of emaciated, unproductive cattle (Ref. 10 of Chapter 6 of (94B3)).

Effects of over-grazing on livestock (86G1): a decline in livestock health and consequent fall in milk and meat production.

Part [C7] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Public Access to Public Lands ~

Arizona's Adopt-A-Ranch program provides a way for citizen volunteers to repair fences, construct water pipelines, maintain roads, and pick up trash for 20 cattle ranchers ([60] in (99W2)). The idea is that this might make ranchers more willing to allow the public to have access to public lands (99W2).

Ranchers have blocked off access to 4.5 million acres of public and state trust land in Arizona with fences and locked gates (AZ Game and Fish Department estimate) ([58] in (99W2)). The AZ Game and Fish Department's land access program spends $0.5 million/ year from the Heritage Fund to help hunters and recreationists gain greater access to public lands controlled by ranchers ([59] in (99W2)).

The Coronado National Memorial is a 4,750-acre national park on the south end of the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista and the Mexico border. 39% of this park, divided into 2 allotments, is set aside for cattle grazing. One allotment, Joe's Spring, is locked at its gate from park visitor use - a 1480 acre exclosure against American citizens from their our own land (Tim Lengerich (timlengerich@hotmail.com) Friends of Coronado National Forest, 4/12/00).

Part [C8] ~ Side Effects of Overgrazing ~ Dust Storms ~

Dust storms from the Sahara have increased ten-fold in 50 years. A major cause is the use of four-wheel drive vehicles. A professor of geography at Oxford University blames this for destroying a crust of lichen and stones that has protected vast areas of the Sahara for centuries. Four-wheel drive use, with overgrazing and deforestation, were the major causes of the world's growing dust storm problem, the scale of which was much bigger than previously realized. The problem has become so serious that 2-3 billion tonnes of dust are carried on the wind each year. Storms transport dust into the atmosphere and deposit it as far away as Greenland and the US. Great Britain was seeing increasing levels in spring that came direct from the Sahara. From an aircraft over the Alps it was possible to see the red dust on the mountains. Although storms are mainly particles of quartz, they also contain salt, pesticide and herbicide. Microbe-laden dust can also carry diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease. The largest dust source is the Bod?l? Depression in Chad, between Lake Chad that is 1/20th of its size in the 1960s and the Sahara Desert. The depression releases 1270 million tonnes of dust a year, 10 times more than when measurements began in 1947. Taking the whole Sahara, and the Sahel, dust volumes increased 4-6 times since the 1960s. In the Caribbean, scientists linked the death of coral reefs to smothering by dust that also found its way to Greenland, The dark dust absorbs the sun's heat, causing the ice to melt. The airborne dust reflected sunlight back into space but blanketed the earth holding the heat in. When it dropped in the sea it fertilized the plankton that absorbed carbon dioxide and cooled the ocean surface, creating fewer clouds and less rain. Where the source was the dried-up bed of a lake or sea, salt deposited from the storms could ruin agricultural land. Worldwide dust in the atmosphere is predicted to be 2-3 billion tonnes in 2004. Florida receives more than 50% of the African dust, causing increased respiratory problems. Mauritania had two dust storms a year in the 1960s, now it has 80 a year. The worst dust storm to reach Great Britain was in 1903 when an estimated 10 million tonnes landed there from the Sahara Desert. (This information is also in the soils degradation file.) ((Unknown) "Africa: 4x4s Replace the Desert Camel and Whip Up a Worldwide Dust Storm", Guardian (London), 8/20/04).

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SECTION (5-D) ~ Politics of Grazing ~
[D1] Anger against federal employees and environmentalists, [D2] USFS, [D3] BLM, [D4] Grazing Fee Politics, [D5] Overgrazing Politics, [D6] Subsidy Politics, [D7] Emergency Feed Program Politics, [D8] Public Opinion, [D9] Foreign Grazing Politics, [D10]~ Grazing Permit Buyouts,

Part [D1] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Anger against federal employees and environmentalists ~

Violence directed "against federal resource managers, largely in the West," has steadily risen since 1995. 1998 saw 100 incidents "of physical attack, destruction, or a direct threat," up 75% over 1997. Incidents appear to involve access to rangeland and other resource management issues. (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) 9/2/99 report) See GREENLines Issue #964, 9/15/99 (Rfeather@albq.defenders.org).

There's fear among federal employees in southern Utah that angry rhetoric by residents opposed to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will turn violent. Locals see monument employees as arrogant bureaucrats determined to eradicate a ranching way of life more than a century old. Monument employees are frequent targets of verbal abuse in Kanab and Escalante. When employees go into the monument itself, they are required to stay in radio contact with dispatchers or to go into the field in pairs (Jerry Spangler, "Will rhetoric against feds turn violent in Southern Utah? Federal employees watch their backs as locals heat up" Deseret News 12/5/99).

Anger against federal employees and environmentalists is nothing new in rural Utah or elsewhere in the rural West. "Anti-federal fervor" permeates much of southern Utah, where issues such as wilderness, monument management plans, endangered species and local ownership of roads are seen as patriotic calls to arms, figuratively speaking. Iron County Commissioner Dennis E. Stowell recently told Congress the commissioners "are greatly concerned that the feelings against the federal government are reaching an explosive state and that bloodshed could result in Iron County" over those kinds of issues. Environmental activists who live in southern Utah say the anti-federal feelings have been directed at them, too. Federal employees make an easy target in communities characterized by high unemployment and plummeting optimism" (Jerry Spangler, "Will rhetoric against feds turn violent in S. Utah? Federal employees watch their backs as locals heat up" Deseret News 12/5/99).

Part [D2] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ USFS ~

The USFS is credited with being more resistant to rancher- and other political pressures to permit over-grazing - and with having grazing lands in better shape than BLM lands. The reasons are:

The USFS got into the business of regulating earlier (79F1).

A USFS biologist (Renee Galeano Popp, a 20-year veteran) has resigned citing inconsistencies and politically driven agendas in agency management of National Forests and citing abuses of livestock grazing and logging in the Southwest. The outgoing Forest Supervisor said "range management is a corpse on life-support, and no one will pull the plug" (5/21/98 Southwest Biodiversity Alert from Southwest Center for Biological Diversity).

The USFS wanted to favor small ranchers over large. But to support existing small ranchers, they had to allow excessive livestock on the land. The Taylor Grazing Act (1934) similarly committed the BLM to sustain over-grazing in the name of social welfare (94O1).

In 1949, Congress increased funding for National Forest range reclamation by ten times. The activities funded (Destruction of pinyon-juniper trees and seeding of crested wheat grass did the range ecosystem far more harm than good (94O1).)

Part [D3] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ BLM ~

The author of Ref. (75W1) contends that the BLM is under-manned, under-budgeted, and frustrated by the influence of the stockmen's advisory board (established by the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934) (75W1).

The latest BLM plan proposed increased livestock grazing in Idaho over the next 20 years by 42-66% (85E1).

Public grazing policies are economically and ecologically unsustainable. But they permit federal agencies to have big budgets, ranchers to be insulated from the effects of their over-grazing, and Congress to tell itself that it is supporting family farms (94O1).

Ref. (74U1) cites a BLM study of its Nevada lands that concluded:

Some 68 million people/ year use public lands managed by the BLM - as compared to 22,000 ranchers who graze their animals on it (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 7/25/95).

Ref. (91W1) is a manual for private citizens interested in influencing BLM grazing management decisions. It gives addresses of all BLM State, District and Resource Area offices and a map showing District boundaries.

In 1990, GAO found that BLM's efforts to deter grazing trespassers were "inadequate." (90G1) (94D1).

Part [D4] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Grazing Fee Politics ~

The 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act (PRIA) requires that grazing fees reflect annual changes in the cost of production "to prevent economic disruption and harm to the western livestock industry" (88S1).

The Clinton Administration proposed to raise grazing fees to $3.51 to $5.05/ AUM (Current fee: $1.86/ AUM). The proposal also called for higher riparian ecosystem management standards (93G1).

The National taxpayers Union backed away from promoting mining and grazing reforms after its attach on federal subsidies drew fury from House Republicans (Wall Street Journal, 9/8/95).

In 8/93 the Interior Department proposed raising grazing fees to $4.28/ AUM from the current $1.86, but the plan met with a Senate filibuster (Wall Street Journal, 2/22/94).

Bruce Babbitt (Interior Secretary) abandoned his plans to impose higher grazing fees on the Department's 270 million acres (1.1 million km2) (New York Times, 2/19/95).

The US Grazing Service attempted to raise grazing fees in the 1940s (along with other agencies and private organizations) on the grounds that the fees covered only 20% of administrative costs. For that, its budget was cut 50%, its staff cut from 250 to less than 50, and in 1946 it was combined with the General Land Office to form the BLM (p. 370 of (91J1)) (94O1).

Part [D5] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Overgrazing Politics ~

The USFS wanted to favor small ranchers over large. But to support existing small ranchers they had to allow excessive livestock on the land. The Taylor Grazing Act (1934) similarly committed the BLM to sustain over-grazing in the name of social welfare (94O1).

Ref. (82S1) claims "over-grazing occurred previous to the 1930s, but it has since been largely controlled due to regulatory control and better grazing management systems by livestock producers" (82S1).

Political pressures from the livestock industry during 1934-76 effectively hamstrung the implementation of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 (Ref. 87 of (81S1)).

In 1986 the Interior Department's Inspector General reported interference by Washington DC officials with local efforts to reduce livestock numbers (Ref. 29 of (89W2)).

Ranchers fight proposals to reduce stocking by challenging the validity of the monitoring data. This has driven monitoring costs so high that federal agencies cannot afford to prove to a judge that livestock numbers exceed carrying-capacity. So they negotiate small reductions that leave the range still over-grazed (94O1).

A proposed set of public range-management reforms aimed at reducing over-grazing is discussed in Ref. (94O1) (p. 54).

Resource agencies have been plagued with accounts of battles with ranchers who do not wish to heed environmental restrictions (91W2) (92B1) (93B1) (94D1).

In 1988, the GAO found that thousands of miles of riparian areas on federal lands required restoration, but had little chance of recovery because of the perceived unwillingness of the agencies to place restrictions on grazing permittees (88G1) (94D1).

Part [D6] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Subsidy Politics ~

Worldwide, subsidies worth at least $650 billion, equivalent to 9% of all government revenues, support logging, mining, oil drilling, livestock grazing, farming (including irrigation), fishing, energy consumption and driving (94U3) (99R2) (98R1).

Many ranches today are owned by government entities, multinational corporations, real estate developers, non-profit organizations like the Nature Conservancy, and a host of wealthy individuals who take advantage of lucrative ranching subsidies and tax benefits ([4] in (99W2)).

In 1992, the Department of Energy (DOE) and BLM needed to use an allotment leased to Gene Hollenbeck of Montrose, Colorado, to accommodate DOE use of a road crossing the allotment for six years. In spite of the two-year termination clause in Mr. Hollenbeck's grazing permit, the possibility of litigation led the agencies to provide a generous settlement. DOE agreed to pay all costs of grazing Hollenbeck's cattle on private land for six years (94D1).

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) is the only cabinet-level department that does not submit an operating budget or budget request to the state legislature, according to an official at the Legislative Finance Committee. Its detailed budget (money spent largely to subsidize ranchers) is not available in any public library or government office in Santa Fe (99W2).

Part [D7] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Emergency Feed Program Politics ~

Political problems with the Emergency Feed Program administered by the USDA Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service are described in Ref. (94O1).

Part [D8] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Public Opinion ~

Socio-economic surveys conducted by Ref. (96S1) concluded that continued livestock grazing with its concomitant loss of habitat, species, and ecological function is not what the citizens of the Basin want. The ecological costs of grazing are far greater than the economic and social benefits of public-land ranching. When citizens of the Columbia Basin were asked how they value the Basin's public lands, they rated the "existence value" of non-roaded areas highest (47%), followed by recreational opportunities such as camping, motor viewing, and winter sports (38%). The value placed by the public on livestock grazing was not presented, but it is probably less than 1%. (Grazing was embedded in a category called "Other" (3.4%) that included mushroom and firewood gathering, Christmas tree harvesting, and berry-picking) (97B3).

Part [D9] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Foreign Grazing Politics ~

Around 1997 45% of Chiapanecan territory in Mexico was used as pastureland. In Chiapas, as in other parts of southern Mexico, the ranches have displaced many campesinos that were often pushed of their lands by cattlemen protected by the army and their own paramilitary bands (97R1).

Sheep numbers on Shetland Island have increased by more than a third since Common Market 'headage payment' subsidies (about 23 pounds for each of Shetland's 220,000 breeding ewes) began (97M1). Comments: Shetland's grazing area is 70% of 1469 km2 = 1028 km2 (97M1), giving a minimum stocking rate of 220,000/1028 = 214 ewes/ km2.

Africa (Kalahari): Borehole-drilling removed protection against over-grazing: lack of water. Rich people benefited (They could afford to drill wells). Among Tswana, surface water is common property, but wells are private property (83C3).

Part [D10] ~ Politics of Grazing ~ Grazing Permit Buyouts ~

"Conservationists Mail Letter to 22,000 Federal Grazing Permittees", "RangeNet" <rangenet@yahoogroups.com>, 1/13/05.
For the third time in as many years, a coalition of conservation organizations dedicated to ending abusive federal public lands livestock grazing has pitched their case for voluntary grazing permit buyout to those who might first appear to be their staunchest opponents: the very ranchers who graze those public lands. "Actually, we believe most public lands grazing permittees support our proposal for the federal government to generously compensate any federal public lands rancher who wishes to retire their grazing permit," noted Andy Kerr, director of the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign (NPLGC). "While a majority of the public lands livestock industry leadership appears to oppose voluntary buyout, it is also apparent that a majority of the membership supports the proposal." (
Continued Below)

Three voluntary buyout bills were introduced in the last Congress (108th; 2003-04). These will be reintroduced into the next Congress (109th; 2005-06). One bill is national in scope, while the other two would create site-specific voluntary buyout programs in Arizona and central Idaho. All bills would provide generous compensation to public lands ranchers who voluntarily waive their interest in a federal grazing permit. The associated grazing allotments would then be retired from commercial livestock grazing. Additional site-specific buyout legislation is also likely to be introduced in 2005. "Buying out public lands livestock grazing is ecologically imperative, economically rational, fiscally prudent and socially just," said Kerr. In the letter to ranchers, Kerr empathizes that "Public lands grazing is a part of the rural American West that is being left behind by the modern global economy and that I believe that we are a rich country that should not leave anyone behind. Permit buyout is a way to recapitalize a part of the American rural West that is in decline." (Continued Below)

In the letter signed by Kerr, he states "Conservationists and ranchers will probably never agree on most public lands grazing issues. But we need only agree on one thing: that if you want to sell your interest in your grazing permit back to the government, you ought to be able to do so." The letter recites the many hardships facing public lands ranchers.

Federal public lands grazing permits are increasingly becoming stranded investments due to a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to:

(1) Irreconcilable multiple use conflicts;

(2) An increasing number of recreationists on public lands spilling out from increasing urban populations;

(3) Increased enforcement of environmental laws;

(4) Foreign beef imports,

(5) The increased economic and political clout of meat packers.

The letter suggests that ranchers may want to inform their leadership about their support for voluntary federal grazing permit buyout prior to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's convention in San Antonio on February 2-5, where voluntary buyout will be on the agenda. "Voluntary grazing permit buyout is good for the environment, good for taxpayers and good for ranchers who desire a viable economic alternative to slowly going broke grazing public lands," said NPLGC Washington, DC representative Justin Baca. The NPLGC permittee letter is available at http://www.permitbuyout.net. (Continued Below)

Environmental Problems with Federal Public Lands Grazing:

Fiscal Problems with Federal Public Lands Grazing:

Problems for Federal Public Lands Ranchers:

All facts documented at www.publiclandsranching.org.

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SECTION (5-E) ~ Grazing Laws ~ [E1]~Major Federal Laws (Chronological order) , [E2] Grazing Permits, [E3]~Grazing on Western Public Lands - Right or Privilege, [E4] Lawsuits, [E5] Indian Lands, [E6] State Laws, [E7]~National (US) Wildlife Refuges, [E8]~Asia, [E9]~Europe, -

Part [E1] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Major Federal (Chronological Order) ~

Laws designed to encourage settlement of the western frontier: the Pre-Emption Act of 1841, the Homestead Act of 1862, the Timber Culture Act of 1873, the Desert Land Act of 1877, and the Timber and Stone Act of 1878 (91J1).

Unlawful Enclosures Act of 1885: This law used military force to stop ranchers from closing open rangeland to outside livestock. This led to rampant over-grazing (94O1).
Forest Homestead Act of 1911: The opened certain national forest lands to homesteading over USFS objections. Settlers needed to graze livestock to survive. WWI resulted in rampant over-grazing and loans to increase herd size. Bankruptcies after WWI permitted the USFS to recover most of the homesteaded land (94O1).
1916 Stock Raising Homestead Act: This act raised the homestead limit to 640 acres. But since the better lands were long since gone, most settlers soon abandoned their claims. The law resulted in increasing pressure for what little grass was left on the diminishing public lands (72H1).
Taylor Grazing Act of 1934: In the 1800s and into the mid-1930s, livestock numbers increased far beyond the capacity of the range. So Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act in 1934. The Act's objectives were not achieved. Grazing privileges were allocated largely on the laws of use prior to the Act. Little attempt was made to regulate grazing according to carrying capacity of the range. Also there was little public interest in rangeland conditions during that period (78M1) (Ref. 82 of (81S1)). The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 had the expressed intent of eliminating nomadic herding, stopping indiscriminate settlement and grazing, stabilizing the grazing industry, and restoring damaged land (91J1). The Taylor Grazing Act directed the Secretary of the Interior "to stop injury to public grazing lands by preventing over-grazing" (94O1).
Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937: Under this act, the federal government paid county back taxes to gain title to failed homesteads comprising millions of acres of ranch lands on the high plains. Initially these Land-Utilization (LU) lands were managed by the USDA (94O1).
Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971: Concern over abuse and exploitation of wild horses led to passage of this act which granted the animals protection. Today there are 42,000 wild horses and burros on public land - vs. 4.3 million cattle and sheep (91W1). Livestock operators routinely blame overgrazing problems on wild horses (91W1).
Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974: This act requires the Secretary of Agriculture to develop, maintain and revise land- and resource-management plans for the national forests that provide for multiple-use and sustained yield of forests products and services.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976: This act requires the Secretary of the Interior to develop, maintain and revise land-use plans for the public lands that use and observe the principles of multiple-use and sustained yield. The FLPMA established the policy that BLM lands should be managed under the principles of multiple-use and sustained yield (89D1) (79F1). Another hope for improvement at the time was a NRDC lawsuit requiring the BLM to file meaningful environmental impact statements. Also the BLM issued new grazing regulations in 1978 (79F1). The FLPMA made the BLM responsible for the long-term productivity of their public rangelands (81S1). The FLPMA attempted to bring the BLM up to USFS standards (inventories, planning processes, sustained-yield- and multiple-use management) (94O1).

The FLPMA of 1976 allowed USFS and BLM to keep half of their grazing fees for ranch improvements. The NFMA of 1976 allowed the USFS to fund range improvements out of timber receipts. Recently the USFS has devoted $3 million/ year of timber receipts to range improvements (94O1).

Under FLPMA, both BLM and USFS should receive fair market value for livestock forage on their lands, although they are also subject to a separate mandate to develop an "equitable" fee structure (94D1).

Public Rangeland Improvement Act (PRIA) of Oct. 1978 This act provided $365 million for "on-the-ground range improvements". Its need was documented by a 1975 BLM survey claiming that 135.3 million acres (83% of the range administered by the BLM) was in unsatisfactory or worse condition. (The 1936 report found 99% of the public range in static or declining condition.) (79F1).

In the PRIA, a law applicable to the BLM and USFS, Congress states that it is establishing and reaffirming a national policy and commitment to manage, maintain, and improve the condition of the public range lands so that they become as productive as possible for all range land values. The PRIA reaffirmed the national policy and commitment to multiple-use and sustained yield as set forth in the FLPMA (89D1).

Part [E2] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Grazing Permits ~

Federal range managers set stocking rates to use 50% of key livestock-forage species. Research has found net revenues to be greatest if livestock eat 35% of the key species. But if ranchers do this, they lose part of their grazing permits (94O1). Comments: Ref. (94O1) compiles facts, figures and arguments for putting much of the blame for over-grazing on government incompetence.

Grazing permits don't allow ranchers to rent/sell their interests to recreation, hunting and fishing even though such usage may be more profitable. If permit holders don't graze their land, they lose their grazing permits (94O1).

The USFS requires that the permit holder own the livestock and base property associated with the grazing allotment (94D1).

Failure of the agencies to enforce the 2-years' notice provision in grazing leases can also provide an additional subsidy. Although grazing regulations emphasize that grazing is a privilege that can be revoked, some ranchers have claimed a property right in their grazing permits (94D1).

BLM grazing permits are deemed a privilege that may be terminated upon two years' notice to the permit holder (94D1).

BLM allows sub-leasing or transfers of grazing permits, while the USFS does not, though some illicit transfers have been reported (94D1). BLM will approve transfers of permits upon application, and allows the permit to pass on with the base property when the owner dies. The USFS prohibition on transfers ensures that the benefit of the grazing permit stays with the original permittee, and that the original permittee cannot profit by selling the subsidy along with the permit (94D1).

BLM allows the livestock to be leased to the permit holder, or the permit holder to lease out the use of the land to another's livestock, so long as the permit holder controls the livestock. The property ownership required for a BLM permit can be as minor as ownership or control of stock watering rights associated with the allotment (94D1).

Designated wilderness areas on federal lands may still be used for grazing allotments. The allottees at times have used these areas in a manner inconsistent with their wilderness use (94D1).

In eastern National Forests, the USFS uses a bidding system to price and allocate grazing allotments (94D1).

Part [E3] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Grazing on Western Public Lands - Right or Privilege ~

(Historical Policy Blunders - US) In 1985 The Farm Security Act was passed by Congress with stiff "sodbuster" provisions to reduce cultivation of highly erodible lands. Close to the same time, farmers in east-central New Mexico, seeking new irrigation sources, challenged the water rights of local stockmen. The New Mexico State Engineer ruled that livestock use was not a beneficial use in the area in question and that rancher water rights would be vacated within a 5-year period if they were not put to some other approved use. Through the unexpected chemistry of a federal law aimed at stopping sod busting and a state water law postulated on beneficial use, land degradation made a major advance in the high plains of New Mexico (00H2).

Forest Guardians Frontline News, (01/04/01)
New Web Database unveils all southwestern National Forest Lands used as Loan Collateral by Banks and Ranchers" Wyoming Judge Dismisses Rancher's Suit Challenging Past Releases of Rancher-Loan Information Forest Guardians recently unveiled a clickable web-map and searchable database of all Southwestern national forest grazing allotments used by ranchers and banks as loan collateral. The map and database are one part of Forest Guardians' ongoing campaign to educate the public about the stealth role that banks play in the ongoing subsidized destruction of public lands. Since 1938, when the US Department of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding with various western banks and ranching groups, the US Forest Service - via this 'escrow waiver' policy - has allowed ranchers to use grazing permits as collateral when seeking loans. The result today is that $1-2 billion dollars is loaned on grazing permits, ensuring that banks have a major financial stake in maintaining high cattle numbers in the West. Forest Guardians believes allowing national forests grazing permits to be used as collateral may be illegal and is poor public policy. The clickable map is at: http://www.fguardians.org/escrowalot.html. The searchable database is at http://www.fguardians.org/escrow2-search.html. These items currently show information only about national forests in Arizona and New Mexico. Forest Guardians intends to provide a database and map of all western national forests in the near future.

The Supreme Court will consider an appeal by ranching groups to challenge the "regulation of livestock grazing" on 170 million acres (688,000 km2) of western public lands. The appeal seeks to reverse 1995 rule changes that require permits to conform to land-use plans, make permanent improvements public property and allow environmental groups and others to apply for grazing permits. The ranchers contend that "grazing privileges" are really an "indefinitely continuing right." (AP, 10/12/99).

As recently at 2/23/99, the Tenth Circuit US Court of Appeals, ruling in Diamond Bar Cattle Co. vs. US, cited a long history of court decisions affirming that the grazing of livestock on public land is not a right but a privilege that can be revoked by the government at any time.

Part [E4] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Lawsuits ~

A lawsuit by the Southern Paiute [Native American] Consortium has stopped the BLM from chaining 55,000 acres (223 km2) of federal land. The Paiute are calling for a nation-wide ban on chaining (GREENLines Issue #387, 5/26/97).

The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest filed suit in 1997 on behalf of trust land beneficiaries in an attempt to stop some of the Land Department's most egregious leasing practices. The Center for Law charged that the Land Department did not advertise the availability of grazing leases to anyone but the existing lessees, did not seek or receive sealed bids for lease renewals; and did not collect revenues when lessees profited from sub-leasing state land. Court ruled in favor of the Center for Law, but the Land Department appealed. Resolution is pending ([21] in (99W2)).

The Center for Law filed suit in May 1998 on behalf of a hunting group and an environmental group that had been denied grazing leases even though the groups had offered 2-5 times the current rate for the parcels ([22] in (99W2)).

In a landmark decision in 1998, the federal government agreed to remove cattle from stream areas on 57 grazing allotments on the Gila and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests in response to a lawsuit from Forest Guardians and other environmentalists (99R1).

Part [E5] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Indian Lands ~

The Navajo Nation has had the regulatory authority for grazing of its public rangelands for almost 40 years, but tribal policies and programs "have not emphasized these resources" (97W1).
Comments: This is probably a euphemism for ignoring massive over-grazing.

Part [E6] ~ Grazing Laws ~ State Laws

Natural resource issues involving game and non-game animals, endangered species habitat, riparian management, and wilderness are handled in the Arizona Land Department's Range Section instead of in its Natural Resources Conservation Section (99W2).

In New Mexico, there once were more than 13 million acres of surface land and 8.75 million acres of mineral rights held in trust for public schools and other designated beneficiaries. Over the years, millions of acres of New Mexico's trust land have been sold off to ranchers at low prices, and much of what remains has been damaged by abuse and neglect. In 1999 only 9 million acres of trust land remained (99W2).

New Mexico's legislature empowers the Taxation and Revenue Department to dictate the value of "grazing lands" to all county assessors. Those values are based on the carrying capacity of grazing land, as determined by the ranching industry at a special meeting that only insiders know about ([28] in (99W2)). For tax year 1998, county assessors value grazing land based on a formula of 15 cents multiplied by the animal units per section to arrive at the taxable value per acre (99W2).

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture holds all power to regulate pesticides, which explains why farmers and ranchers are exempt from licensing and regulation requirements that apply to other pesticide applicators (99W2). The Arizona Department of Agriculture operates in a like fashion (99W2).

Even if Arizonans just let a neighboring rancher graze cattle on their land for a few days a year, they can claim an "agricultural exemption" on their property tax bill. "Rent-a-cow" schemes allow landowners to avoid paying taxes on prime real estate. In 1992 a group of California-based investors was paying $98/ year in property taxes on Pima County AZ land valued at $6.1 million ([34] in (99W2)).

Criteria for getting NM property classified as agricultural allow virtually all large landowners to reduce their property taxes to almost nothing just by putting livestock on the land (99W2).

Former New Mexico Governor Bruce King's 800 acres of prime real estate northwest of Santa Fe was appraised at $2.8 million, but his 1996 property tax bill was reduced to $23.63, because he allowed a neighbor's cows to graze there. About 2,000 properties in Santa Fe County have minimal tax values because property owners have claimed this agricultural exemption ([29] in (99W2)).

New Mexico's Rangeland Protection Act was passed purportedly to "enhance the multiple-use management, development and conservation of rangeland in New Mexico." but the real focus of this act was to fund brush and weed control on rangeland to aid ranchers (99W2).

Part [E7] ~ Grazing Laws ~ National (US) Wildlife Refuges ~

National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, are the only federal lands in the US where wildlife has officially been given higher priority than recreational and commercial activities. Federal law states that no recreational or commercial use shall be permitted on these lands unless the Secretary of the Interior determines that these activities are compatible with the primary purposes for which Refuges are established. As of 1991, 156 of the 368 NWRs in the 17 Western states and Pacific Islands allowed commercial livestock grazing and/or haying ((91J1) p. 470).

Part [E8] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Asia ~

China imposed a nationwide grazing ban to prevent further deterioration of its grasslands. The ban will last for 2 months in some areas and 12 months in other areas. China banned grazing on 867,000 km2 of pasture and forbad 30 million livestock from roaming on wild grasslands at the end of 2006. (http://English.eastday.com),

More than 80% of China's 2.6 million km2 of usable grassland has deteriorated. Sandstorms, flooding and soil erosion are on the increase (http://English.eastday.com, "China imposes nationwide grazing ban to restore grassland, 4/11/07.).

In China, as in many other countries with common grazing areas, there is no administrative mechanism for limiting livestock populations to sustainable yield of rangelands (UNFAO, FAOSTAT Statistics database at www.aps/fao.org 5/28/02).

Part [E9] ~ Grazing Laws ~ Europe ~

In Swiss alpine villages, social regulations limiting overgrazing have been maintained for many generations (Geoffrey McNicoll, "Managing population-environment systems: problems of institutional design," in Wolfgang Lutz, Alexia Prskawetz, and Warren C. Sanderson (editors) "Population and Environment: Methods of Analysis. Supplement to Population and Development Review." New York: Population Council (2002). (su3)

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SECTION (5-F) ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ [F1] General, [F2] Oceania, [F3] Africa, [F4]~Iceland, [F5]~Asia, [F6]~Major Grasslands of Centuries Past, [F7]~ US Deserts, [F8] Early US Wildlife, [F9] Early US Livestock Populations, [F10]~Latin America, [F11]~Native Prairie, [F12] Trees and Shrubs on Grasslands 

Part [F1] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ General ~

Domestication of animals occurred between 120,000 and 140,000 years ago (R.F. Sage, "Was low atmospheric CO2 during the Pleistocene a limiting factor for the origin of agriculture?" Global Change Biology 1 (1995) pp. 93-106.)

Episodes of channel trenching (arroyo cutting) certainly occurred prior to the introduction of livestock (25B1) (87K1) (94F2). Most reviewers, however, conclude that, at the least, livestock have been a contributing factor to the entrenching of stream channels in the US Southwest (See list of 4 references in Ref. (94F2)).

Grass appeared 60 million years ago. Prairie grassland developed 15 million years ago, along with large herds of herbivores (p. 43 of (91J1)).

"Resolved, that none of us know, or care to know, anything about grasses, native or otherwise, outside the fact that for the present there are lots of them, the best on record, and we are after getting the most out of them while they last." (a resolution by a West Texas cattleman's organization in 1898 from Paul Shepard's book "Nature and Madness")

Part [F2] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Oceania ~

On the South Pacific island of Tikopia in about 1600 AD, the natives decided to kill every pig because the pigs raided gardens, competed with humans for wild food, required 10 lb. of vegetables to produce one lb. of pork and had become an unsustainable luxury for kings (04D1).

Sub-Part [F2a] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Oceania -Australia ~
There were no hoofed animals in Australia and New Zealand before Europeans arrived around 1800 ((
00W1), p. 7).

Studies of soil in a mostly dry lake bed in Australia show that monsoons visited Australia yearly for the past 150,000 years, but 10,000 years ago when monsoons in Africa and India began to get stronger, Australian storms didn't. This is attributed to humans who are thought to have arrived in Australia 50,000 years ago. (Large-scale land-clearing fires reduced the vegetation, making it harder for moisture to transpire from the land to replenish atmospheric moisture (97M2).)

Sub-Part [F2b] ~ Oceania - New Zealand ~
Ref. (56C1) gives a map of the pre-European vegetation cover of South Island, New Zealand, and of the current remaining tussock grasslands. Sheep began grazing the original tussock grassland on the coast in the early 1840s and pushed to the limit of the grasslands by 1870. Most of the grassland has thus been under grazing pressure for a century (p. 751 of (56C1)).

Part [F3] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Africa ~

Sub-Part [F3a] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Africa ~ Sahara Desert ~
In the West African Sahel over the last century, droughts have significantly increased in magnitude and intensity. The decreasing rainfall has pushed northern pastoralists southward into lands occupied by sedentary farmers, causing conflicts and widespread conflicts and destruction of farmland and cattle
(07N_). (Isohets in the West African Sahel have migrated 200 km. southward over the past century.) 07N_ Anthony Nyong, "Climate-Related Conflicts in West Africa," in Report from Africa: Population, Health, Environment, and Conflict, ECSP Report Ed.12 (2007) pp. 36-43 of a 50-page document. Comments: Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers formed the basis for the genocides in Rwanda in recent decades. Numerous sub-Saharan countries show the same conflicts between pastoralist and farmers. Comments: Some sources claim the north-south migration of the Sahara Desert is a cyclical phenomenon, but this document indicates a very long cycle, if it is indeed a cyclical phenomenon. (Africa.doc)

The Sahara Desert was tree-covered as recently as 6000 BC. It was turned to a desert by nomadic tribes that burned trees to provide grazing land (p. 362 of (91J1)). Ancient farming villages have been found buried in the Sahara Desert (79S1). Ref. (70C1) cites references supporting the argument that the climate of the Sahara has not changed in the past 9000 years, and that random climatic variations eliminated the glacial relicts of Saharan fauna and flora, and that human activities have greatly accelerated the deterioration of the Sahara (70C1). An excellent history of the Sahara Desert is found in Ref. (56H1). The area was much wetter in the "Neolithic Wet Phase" starting about the middle of the sixth millennium BC and continuing about 3000 years before becoming drier. Traces of Neolithic culture have been found all around the border of the desert and on the tops of high mountains of the central Sahara. There is much debate on the history of the climate of the Sahara region, as the article summarizes (56H1).

Sub-Part [F3b] ~ Africa - East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania) (Note: Eritrea is now part of Ethiopia. It bordered on the Red Sea.) ~

Water conflicts between farmers and pastoralists will persist if the in-migration of farmers to former pastoral lands is not controlled. The squeezing of pastoralists into ecologically poor, marginal lands of Tanzania's Pangani River basin has continued unabated since the 1930s, even as the population of pastoralists and their livestock has grown (07M1) (Africa.doc) (SE3)

The Mbonile article (07M1) characterizes much of the difficulties in Tanzania in terms of conflicts between farmers and pastoralists that have resulted from growing population pressures on the land - the same basic problems as served as the basis for the genocides in Rwanda (07M1). (Africa.doc)

The Masai of East Africa seem to have migrated southward over many centuries preceding the colonial era, abandoning denuding and over-grazing lands (Ref. 18 of (76E1)).

Part [F4] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Iceland ~

Sheepherders long ago stripped off virtually all the forest that once covered Iceland. Subsequent over-grazing prevents it from growing back (p. 363 of (91J1)).

Part [F5] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Asia ~

Sub-Part [F5a] ~ Asia - India ~
Ref. (79S1) cites references contending that the Rajasthan Desert (million km2) of India (site of the Indus Valley civilization) was created by over-grazing and consequent albedo changes (and dust) that reduced rainfall (79S1).

2000 years ago, the center of India's Thar Desert was a jungle (82S1).

Ref. (76E2) cites work of R. Bryson pointing out that the ruined cities of Hacoppa and Mohenjo-Daro, once part of an empire that was the granary of northwest India in 2000 BC, was abandoned when deserts swept in around 1900 BC (76E2).

Part [F6] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Major Grass lands of Centuries Past ~

Some areas which were grass-lands in 1600 include the South African Veld, the Argentine Pampa, the tussock grassland of the South Island of New Zealand, the Pacific bunch grasslands of California, the Columbia Basin, the great mid-continent grass land of North America, and the Manchurian grass land (56C1).

Ref. (56C1) gives a map of unplowed grass lands of western North America as of the 16th century and currently.

Patagonia (southern Argentina) was settled in the 19th century. Its sheep ranches helped make Argentina one of the world's wealthiest countries. Over-grazing turned Patagonia into a barren plateau reminiscent of South Dakota (94N1).

Part [F7] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ US Deserts ~

Ref. (70C1) contends that the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and much of the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico have been created by over-grazing during the past few centuries (since the European invasion) (p. 59 of (70C1)) (Ref. 8 of (76E1)).

The present desolate shifting-sand area that lies between the Hopi villages and the Colorado River was such good pasture late in the 18th century that Father Escalante, returning home from his canyon explorations, rested his travel-worn animals there to regain flesh. The effects of Navajo sheep herding in little more than a century, and mainly in the past 60 years, are well documented (56S1).

Much public land in the US West lies between the Sierra-Cascades and the Rocky Mountains (the "Intermountain West"). Most of this region never had large herds of grazing herbivores, hence plant species and soils are not well adapted to continual removal and trampling. The area without significant herd impact includes most of the Great Basin, the southwestern grasslands, the Palouse prairie, California grasslands and various deserts like Mohave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan (99W1).

Part [F8] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Early US Wildlife ~

Grasslands of the US Great Plains are characterized by rhizomatous grasses and a lack of microbiotic crusts (94F2). Thus they are well adapted to withstand herbivory by large ungulates (See 2 references cited in Ref. (94F2). Comments: Also these grasslands are moister than lands further west.

West of the Rocky Mountains, bison were rare or absent in Holocene times. Bison were present along the northern and western perimeter of the Great Basin and absent altogether from Arizona, western New Mexico and most of California (See the 9 references cited in Ref. (94F2)).

The Great Plains Bioregion was heavily grazed by bison. The Great Basin Bioregion had few native ungulates (Statement by the late Joy Belsky in a letter of 1/7/00 to the Atlantic Monthly).

Large herds of bison, elk, and antelope were common on the US Great Plains (99W1).
Comments: They apparently were not as common in the Intermountain West.

Native grazers such as deer, elk, and pronghorn are not thought to have been numerous enough to have exerted strong selective pressures on native grasses and broadleaf species ((89M1) in (99G1)).

The pre-white-man bison population of North American grasslands is estimated at 50 million. The demise of the bison populations during 1840-80 is well-documented. Bison were virtually eliminated before 1890. The weight of opinion is that bison did not graze as heavily as sheep and cattle in the North American grasslands (p. 742 of (56C1)). By 1885, all but a handful of buffalo had been killed, and the plains elk had disappeared completely (85R1).

Part [F9] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Early US Livestock Populations ~

(Historical Origins of Land Degradation) Settlement of the arid region of the US -- the lands west of the 100th meridian -- followed the political course set by the Homestead Act of 1862 and then concluded by the expanded homestead acts of 1904 (Kincaid Act), 1909 (Enlarged Homestead Act), and 1916 (Stock-Raising Homestead Act). Central to those acts, and to the massive depletion of western rangelands that followed their passage, were the size limitations placed on homestead units. Neither the 65 ha allowed under the 1862 Act nor the 259 ha permitted under the 1916 Act were adequate to support sustainable livestock operations in the arid region. Moreover, many of these arid lands were incapable of being homesteaded because of the absence of water. Although these findings were publicized by John Wesley Powell (1878) in his Report of the Lands of the Arid Region of the US, Congress held tenaciously to a vision of an agrarian West of small yeoman farmers. As a result, public policy set the preconditions for the tragedy of the western commons (00H2). (Continued Below)

Livestock operators who settled first in the arid West were unable to legally acquire sufficient lands to support economically sustainable ranching units. They were forced to rely on unclaimed, open rangelands to provide yearlong forage for their herds. To protect their rangelands -- to enclose them from the commons -- stockmen resorted to fencing, control of waters, and informal policing of customary grazing areas by associations of cattle growers. But with the escalation of homesteading and the arrival of large migrating herds of sheep in the 1880's, stockmen faced a crisis of rangeland control. To ensure open access to western rangelands for itinerant sheep herders and newly arrived homesteaders, the Federal Government mobilized its legislative, executive, and judicial powers against recalcitrant cattlemen. It outlawed the exclosure of the open range by either fencing or control of scarce waters, disarmed ranching associations of their authority to restrict entry onto the public domain, and instructed military troops to enforce open range conditions. These actions quickly received the judicial blessings of the Supreme Court. In its 1890 decision on Buford vs. Houtz, the court declared the public lands of the US "free to all people who seek to use them where they are left open and unenclosed ..." By the unanimous decree of all three branches of the government, the official policy of the US was to sustain and perpetuate the tragedy of the commons on the lands of the arid region of the US (00H2).

Livestock were bought into the US Southwest in the 1700s and into the Northwest in the mid-1800s. By the early 1800s in the Southwest and the late 1800s in the Northwest, virtually all plant communities that supported grass- and sedge production (including ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests) were heavily stocked with cattle and sheep (97B2).

In 1870 the cattle population of the 17 western US states was 4-5 million. In 1884 it peaked at 35-40 million. Starvation reduced the population to 27 million in 1890 (91J1). Drought and cold, part of the western weather cycle, nearly wiped out the livestock industry in the northwest in 1886 and in the southwest in 1893. Cattle and sheep came back, but never in as great numbers (79F1).

The 1890 sheep population in the 17 western states was 53 million. The population peaked around 1910 (91J1).

In 1879 there were 14 million sheep and 5 million cattle grazing in the arid west (20" of rainfall or less). By 1889 the number of sheep increased 28%, and the number of cattle grew 60% (81S3).

From 1884-1900 the number of sheep in Wyoming and Montana increased from 260,000 to over 11 million (94O1).

Cattle numbers in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana west from zero in 1860 to 1.8 million in 1880 (94O1).

Maps of western US livestock distributions for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910 and 1920 are in Ref. (91J1).

A good overview of the history of the BLM portion of the public domain is given in Ref. (75W2).

A good discussion of Arizona's over-grazing problems, water problems, including a historical perspective, is found in Ref. (83C1).

Estimates of cattle population in southeast Arizona (thousands) (83C1)
Year -|1890|1900|1910|1920|1930|1940|1950|1960|1970|1980
Number|1500| 438| 375| 263| 268| 250| 210| 250| 240| 188

Southeast Arizona was grassland before 1880. Today, shrubby plants dominate. From 1880-1900 dramatic changes in composition of vegetation occurred along major waterways. Flooding and resulting channelization, plowing of floodplains, and livestock grazing essentially eliminated the natural process of shallow groundwater recharges. Changes in vegetation in upland range during 1930-80 were just as destructive (83C1).

In 1870 there were 5000 cows in all of the Arizona Territory. By 1890 there were 1,095,000 cows on Arizona ranch land. Photos in 1892-3 showed thousands of square miles denuded of their cover and laid bare to the elements (Ref. 38 of (81S3)).

The Great Plains once supported 200-250 cattle/mi2. The Dust Bowl disaster prompted federal grazing regulations, leading to today's cattle densities of 50-100 head/mi2 on the same ranges. Despite these regulations, as much as 28% of the 163 million acres of federal rangelands have been made almost useless by over-grazing, and in poor condition according to the CEQ (77B1).

In 1982 the number of AUMs allowed on public rangeland is 1/3 of that which occurred in 1935. Since 1935 sheep decreased significantly, while cattle have increased (83B1).

Texas longhorns in the early days of US grazing averaged about 650 lb. Typical cows of around 1900 weighed 800 lb. Today's beef cattle weigh about 1000 lb. (p. 163 of (91J1)).

Crested wheatgrass was deliberately introduced to the western US range despite its low palatability to livestock and low value to wildlife (94O1).

A massive amount of information on the condition of the western US range can be found in Ref. (36A1).

Public policy (Congress) insisted that public lands remain a commons through 1905 (on national forests) and through 1934 on the public domain, literally forcing ranchers to over-graze (94O1).

US range conditions by 1990 were not significantly different from 1966 - despite huge increases in USFS and BLM budgets for range improvements (PRIA and the Range Betterment Fund). This is partly explained by the 50% decrease in rancher-financed improvements during the time of massive increases in taxpayer-financed improvements (94O1).

During 1946-93, full-time BLM personnel grew from 1000 to almost 10,000 (94O1).

Most historic arroyos in southern Arizona were initiated during 1865-1900. No rainfall changes have occurred since then (74C1).

Part [F10] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Latin America ~

About 60% of the productive territory in Mexico is pastureland, producing meat for a population, 50% of whom never eat meat. To support the cattle industry, a growing number of farmers have switched from food-grains to feed-grains. During the late 1970s, this trend cost Mexico its self-sufficiency in food production. In 1996 Mexico imported a third of its food, primarily from the US (97R1).

Patagonia was never a country or a state but rather a loosely defined region shared by two countries, Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is generally defined today as everything south of the Río Colorado and the eastern portion of the Río Bío-Bío. For corporations it represents a storehouse of natural resources - oil, gas, gold, and fish. As globalization pulls more and more of the world into its magnetic orbit, and communications overcome distance, Patagonia is moving from the mythical margins toward the center of 21st-century reality. (Continued below)

Of all the changes blowing through Patagonia, though, none has had greater impact than the shifts in ownership and use of the land brought about by the collapse of the huge sheep farms, or estancias, of the Argentine tableland. Stretching nearly 1500 miles (2400 km) from the Río Colorado in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south, this immense arid wilderness - the steppe - is the heart of Patagonia. Its culture and economy were built on sheep. But since the 1970s falling wool prices and desertification caused by overgrazing have brought the sheep-raising industry in Patagonia to its knees. Hundreds of estancias have gone out of business. Others have been sold to wealthy foreigners. Nearly one-sixth of Argentine Patagonia now belongs to 350 foreign owners, many of them Americans. The full article talks of 50,000,000 acres (202,344 km2) having been desertified (Simon Worrall, "Land of the Living Wind", National Geographic, January, 2004).

Sub-Part [F10a] ~ Latin America - Mexico ~

The first sheep were introduced in the Mezquital Valley (just north of the Valley of Mexico) in the 1530s and 1540s. By the late 1550s there were 400,000 of them. 15 years later there were 2 million. By the 1590s the sheep herds had been reduced by half. Hillsides were eroded; deep gullies formed, and the topsoil was carried away leaving only tepetate (Aztec word for exposed hardpan) (Joel Simon, Amicus Journal, Spring 1997, pp. 28-33).

Part [F11] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Native Prairie ~

Websites relevant to tallgrass prairie in the US (01O1):

A map showing the location of the remaining tallgrass-, mixed-grass- and shortgrass prairie in the US is found in Ref. (01O1).

The land that was once tallgrass prairie in the US is now the corn-and-soybean belt. The land of the former mixed grass prairie now grows wheat. The shortgrass prairie that once grew in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains in the US is now grazing lands for domestic livestock (01O1).

Tallgrass survives frequent prolonged drought of the US Midwest by extending roots 11 ft. down into the water table. Aboveground, tallgrass may grow 10ft. high (01O1).

Some 95% of the tallgrass prairie in the US is gone. In Illinois, less than 0.1% of the tallgrass prairie remains (01O1).

Oregon's Willamette Valley once had "more than 1 million acres of native prairie." Today, only 1% of that grassland habitat remains (AP 1/26/00).

A 9/99 USGS report ($1 million 1,000-page survey of America's biological resources) noted that California has eliminated 99% of its once-expansive grasslands.

Part [F12] ~ History of Grazing and Grazing Lands ~ Trees and Shrubs on Grasslands ~

From the 1940s through the 1960s, thousands of km2 of public and private woodlands were cabled, chained, bulldozed, and treated with herbicides to convert them to grasslands (84W1), (83R1), (87D1), (87J1).

Ref. (96B2) presents arguments that refute the theory that climatic change and increasing CO2 concentrations are responsible for expansion of western juniper.

Over the past century, western juniper has spread from rocky ridges and unproductive areas to occupy over 10,000 km2 of eastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, and northeastern California (94M1). Similar to earlier expansion of pinyon-juniper in the southwest and Great Basin, this expansion is most likely due to livestock grazing and reduction of fire frequency (due to loss of fine fuel from grazing) (60E1), (81Y1), (94M1). Both phenomena occurred during the same time period (96B2).

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SECTION (5-G) ~ Livestock-Generated Waste ~

Animal waste is responsible for 16% of common water quality problems traceable to household consumption. 2 billion tons of wet livestock manure is generated per year - over 10 times the amount of municipal solid waste generation. Beef cattle pose the greatest environmental hazard, with chickens 2nd and pigs 3rd (99B3).

In the US, livestock produce 130 times more manure than humans do, which they often must do in giant feedlots (Vital Signs 2001: World Watch, 6/17/01).

In the US, waste generated by livestock is 130 times that produced by humans, and is implicated in waterway pollution, toxic algal blooms and massive fish-kills. One 50,000-acre hog farm under construction in Utah will produce more waste than Los Angeles (98H2).

According to EPA, the world's livestock herds account for roughly 25% of anthropogenic emissions of methane - a potent greenhouse gas. Moreover, the stagnant waste lagoons of factory-farm operations emit an added 5% of human-induced methane, making livestock production the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions (98H2).

SECTION (5-H) ~ Grain-Grass Substitution - [H1] Global, [H2] US, [H3] Outside US,

Data from a Worldwatch Press Briefing on Global Trends in Meat Consumption, 7/12/98

Demand for cereals for animal feed is projected to grow 1.9%/ year between 1997/99 and 2015, and 1.5%/ year to 2030 (03A1).

Part [H1] ~ Grain- Grass Substitutions ~ Global ~

Animal feed use contributed 14% of the total increase in world cereal demand between the mid-1980s and 1997/99, vs. 37% the decade before (03A1).

Some 660 million tonnes/ year (35% of world cereal consumption) are being used as animal feed (03A1).

About 80% of the world's beef and mutton production (52 million tons annually) comes from foraging animals (02E1). Comments: Presumably the remaining 20% is grain fed. If one counts pigs, chickens etc. then a far larger percentage of meat production is grain-fed.

Grain Fed to Livestock as Percent of Total Grain Consumption ((00W1), Table FG.4 has a breakdown by nation.)
Region - - - - - - -|1988|1998
Asia(excl.Mideast)~ | ~ ~| -
Europe~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 64 | 58
Mideast/North Africa| 35 | 32
Sub-Saharan Africa~ | ~2 | ~2
North America ~ ~ ~ | 63 | 65
Cent.America/Caribb.| 19 | 29
South America ~ ~ ~ | 46 | 50
Oceania ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 50 | 62
Totals~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 38 | 37

About 80% of (global) beef production is from rangelands. (Worldwatch Institute "Fish Farming May Soon Overtake Cattle Ranching as a Food Source" 10/3/00). Comments: What was probably meant was that 80% of beef production is from pastures or rangelands, with the remainder coming from grain-feeding, fish-meal etc.

Some 25% of world cropland is devoted to producing grains and other feed for livestock (92D1).

About 38% of the world's grain production is now fed to livestock (92D1). In the US this amounts 135 million tons/ year of grain, of a total production of 312 million tons/ year (92D1).

In a world where 17% of people go hungry, the politics of meat consumption are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient use of grain. The grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor (98H2).

Some 34% of the world's grain crop is used to feed livestock raised for meat (USDA data, 2000).

Currently, 36% of the world's grain goes to feed livestock and poultry, inefficient converters of grain. (A small, but rapidly growing, share of the world's grain goes to fish farms, where the conversion is slightly more efficient than poultry.) In the developing world, the share of grain fed to livestock has tripled since 1950 to 21% in 1997 (98H2).

Industrial nations feed nearly 70% of grain to livestock (98H2).

Feedlots accounted for 12% of global beef and mutton production in 1996 ((97D1), p. 53). Comments: This percentage has probably increased significantly since 1996.

1/3-1/2 of the plant food grown on Earth that could be eaten by people is, instead, fed to livestock. Food cycled through livestock loses 80-90% of its food-value to humans, relative to direct consumption by humans (p. 366 of (91J1)).

About 1/3 of global grain consumption is for livestock feed (86V1).

Some 38% of the world's grain is fed to livestock (35% in 1960) (91D1).

In the US, 70% of domestic grain-use is by animals. 64% in eastern Europe, 57% in EC, 56% in Soviet Union, 55% in Brazil, 48% in Japan, 33% in the Middle East, 20% in China, 12% in Southeast Asia, 2% in sub-Saharan Africa and in India (91D1).

Share of grain going to feed livestock (98H2)
Country |1960|1997
China:~ | 8% | 26%
Mexico: | 5% | 45%
Egypt ~ | 3% | 31%
Thailand|<1% | 30%

(Global) If the 670 million tons of the world's grain used for livestock feed were reduced by 10%, this would free up 67 million tons of grain, enough to sustain 225 million people - nearly 3 years of global population growth (98H2).

Part [H2] ~ Grain- Grass Substitutions ~ US ~

US cattle sold for slaughter at weights 850-1200 pounds typically eat 8-9 pounds of feed (grain?) to gain a pound of weight. It takes 3-4 months to fatten a typical 700-pound animal for slaughter (Bloomberg, 3/15/00).

Some 33% of cattle added to US feedlots in October/99 weighed less than 600 lbs versus 27% in 1998 and 28% in 1997 (99B2) (USDA data).

Using pasture and grazed forest-range for a system of producing livestock by feeding grass alone reduces energy inputs by about 60% and land resources by about 8%, but reduces the production of animal protein in the US by about 50% (80P1). Under a system in which only grass is fed, livestock would be restricted to beef-, milk- and lamb production. The amount of grain fed to US livestock is about 135 million tonnes/ year, or about 10 times the amount consumed by the US population (80P1).

US Grain production, grain fed to Livestock, grain-protein fed to livestock, and corresponding inputs in terms of Land, Labor, and Energy (billion kcal) (80P1) *#
Grain produced (Col. 2) units: millions of tonnes/ year.
Grain fed to livestock (Col. 3) units: millions of tonnes/ year.
Protein fed to livestock (Col. 4) units: millions of kg./ year.
Land (Col. 5) in units of 1000 km2.
Labor (Col. 6) in units of millions of person-hours.
Energy (Col. 7) in units of trillions of kcal.
- - - - |Grain|Grain|Protein| Land |Labor|Energy
Crop- - |prod.| fed | fed ~ | ~ ~ ~| ~ ~ | - -
Corn~ ~ |146.3|102.0| 9078~ |171.00| 159 |109.9
Sorghum | 19.2| 11.5| 1265~ | 33.13| ~35 | 24.8
Oats~ ~ | ~9.6| ~4.3| ~503~ | 23.56| ~15 | ~4.9
Barley~ | ~8.3| ~4.8| ~427~ | 22.73| ~14 | ~6.6
Soybeans| 41.4| 10.8| 3283~ | 58.38| ~55 | 18.7
Wheat ~ | 58.0| ~2.1| ~258~ | 10.36| ~ 3 | ~3.7
Totals~ |282.8|135.5|14814~ |319.16| 281 |168.5

*# Corn and sorghum silage for beef- and dairy cattle is grown on an additional 40,000 km2.

Average protein yield of the 5 major grains (+ soybeans) fed to US livestock: 46 tonnes/ km2 (80P1). (See table above.)

(USA) 37 million tonnes of plant protein is fed to livestock annually to produce 5.4 million tonnes of animal protein for human consumption. This plant-protein source is composed of 14.8 million tonnes from grain, 20.2 million tonnes from forage and about 2 million tones from miscellaneous plant- and animal by-products (80P1). To humans, animal-protein has about 1.4 times the biological value of grain-protein (Ref. 18 of (80P1)).

(USA) Animal products supply about 69% of the protein available for consumption in the US, 33% of the energy, and substantial amounts of other nutrients, notably calcium, available iron, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12 (Ref. 3 of (80P1)). Animal products account for 37% of iron available for US consumption (Ref. 3 of (80P1)). Animal sources of iron are generally at least twice as available as plant sources, and, in reality, animal products probably provide more than 70% of the available iron in the US diet (80P1).

Feedlot grain consumed (lb./ beef-cow) in the US (82W1)
Year -|1965|1976|1981
Amount|4457|5181|4280

Part [H3] ~ Grain- Grass Substitutions ~ Outside the US ~

(Developing World) In many developing nations, corn is a major ingredient in the manufacture of livestock and poultry feeds (01U1).

(Developing World) ILRI pegged feed-grain harvests of developing countries in 1993 at 194 million tonnes (01U1).

(Developing World) Feed-grain harvests of developing countries in 1993: 194 million metric tonnes (BusinessWorld (Philippines), 4/30/01).

The share of grain fed to livestock in Egypt rose from 10-36% over the past 25 years (Ref. 72 of (91D1)).

Mexico sorghum (livestock feed) increased from 2% to 16% of grain land during 1965-85, as corn (human food) area fell from 83% to 69% of grain land (Ref. 73 of (91D1)).

Mexico feeds 30% of its grain to livestock, although 22% of Mexicans suffer from mal-nutrition (Ref. 73 of (91D1)).

The share of Mexican cropland devoted to animal feed and fodder was 5% in 1960; 23% in 1980 (91D1).

Syria devoted 3000 km2 in 1950 to barley for livestock feed, and 30,000 km2 in 1989. Most of this expansion was onto dry steppes, ecologically suited only for grazing. (Syria exported barley in 1965. Today it imports barley (Ref. 69 of (91D1)).

Grain used for food for direct human consumption and for livestock feed in the (former) USSR
(millions of tons/ year) (plot in Ref. (91D1))
Year - - |1956|1961|1966|1971|1976|1981|1986|1990
Food - - | 40 | 42 | 42 | 43 | 45 | 47 | 48 | 49
Livestock| 36 | 42 | 55 | 87 |107 |113 |123 |133

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