Grazing on Public Lands


Task Force Chair

William Laycock

Task Force Members

Dick Loper
Frederich Obermiller
Lamar Smith
Sherman Swanson
Martin Vavra
Task Force Reports
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Approximately 262 million acres of public land in the western United States are grazed by domestic livestock. This report discusses and provides scientific information concerning livestock grazing on public lands in the West. Chair: William A. Laycock, University of Wyoming, Laramie. R129, ISBN 1-887383-09-3, December 1996, 70 pp., $20.00; Interpretive Summary, 1 p., free.


Table of Contents

Grazing on Public Lands: Contents



Interpretive Summary, 1
Sustainability of Grazed Ecosystems, 1
Range Condition, 1
Effects of Grazing on Other Rangeland Uses and Values, 1
Tools for Management of Rangelands, 1
Socioeconomic Implications of Public-Land Grazing, 2
Future of Public-Land Grazing, 2
The Grazing Fee Issue, 2

Executive Summary, 3
What Are Public Rangelands?, 3
Sustainability of Grazed Ecosystems, 3
Grazing and Other Rangeland Uses and Values, 4
Range Condition, 4
Present Condition of U.S. Rangelands, 4
Biological Diversity, 4
Watershed and Riparian Areas, 5
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat, 5
Timber Management, 5
Outdoor Recreation and Aesthetics, 6
Tools for Management of Rangelands, 6
Socioeconomic Implications of Public-Land Grazing, 6
Future of Western Public-Land Grazing, 6
Implications of Decreased Public-Land Grazing, 7
The Grazing Fee Issue, 7
Consequences of Increasing Grazing Fees Substantially, 7

1 Current Issues and Perceptions, 9
Introduction, 9
Resource Degradation, 9
Biodiversity, 9
Range Condition, 9
Soil Erosion and Desertification, 9
Watersheds and Riparian Areas, 9
Wildlife Population and Habitat, 10
Recreation/Aesthetics, 10
Grazing Fees, 10
Geography and Land Ownership in the West, 11
Settlement, 11
Public and Land Ownership Patterns, 12
Effect of Intermingled Ownership on Management, 12
Effect of Removing Livestock from Public Land, 12
Costs of Managing Public Rangelands, 13

2 Current Grazing Laws and Public Policies, 14
Introduction, 14
Public Lands and the Federal Land Management Agencies, 14
What and Where Are the Western Federal Rangelands?, 15
For Whom are the Western Federal Rangelands Managed?, 16
Origins of Regulated Public-Land Grazing, 17
Federal Forestlands, 17
On the Public Domain, 18
Lessons from the Evolution of Western Grazing Permits, 18
Social and Economic Implications, 20

3 Grazing and Rangeland Ecosystem Sustainability, 22
What Does Sustainability Mean?, 22
Is Livestock Grazing on Public Rangelands Sustainable?, 22
General Effects of Grazing on Plants and Soils, 22
Historical Changes in Rangeland Vegetation, 23
Reasons for Historical Changes in Vegetation, 26
Relation of Historical Changes in Vegetation to Sustainability of Livestock Grazing, 27
Effect of Historical Changes in Vegetation on Desertification, 28
Sustainability of Managed Livestock Grazing, 29

4 Grazing and Other Rangeland Uses and Values, 31
The State of Public Rangelands, 31
Grazing Removal: A Treatment, 31
Range Condition, 31
Climax Theory: Not a Universal Truth, 31
Range Health vs. Condition, 32
Management of Public Rangelands, 32
Present Condition, 33
Desired Plant-Community, 33
Biodiversity, 34
Watersheds and Riparian Areas, 36
Wildlife Habitat and Grazing, 38
Featured Species, 39
Nonconsumptive Wildlife, 42
Timber Management and Grazing, 44
Detrimental Effects of Grazing, 44
Beneficial Effects of Grazing, 45
Forest Management for Wildlife and Livestock, 46
Outdoor Recreation/Aesthetics, 46
Management Tools, 47
Grazing, 47
Fire, 47
Other Plant-Control Techniques, 47
Seeding, 48
Combinations of Range Improvement Practices, 48
Working Landscapes, 48

5 Socioeconomic Implications of Public-Land Grazing, 50
Structure of the Western Public-Land Ranching Industry, 50
Future of Western Public-Land Grazing, 50
Decreased Dependency on Public-Land Grazing is Inconsistent with Industry Structure, 51
Policy Implications, 52
The Issue, 52

6 Conclusions and Recommendations, 55
Effects of Removal of Livestock from Public Lands, 55
Resource Degradation, 55
Grazing Fees and "Subsidization," 56

Literature Cited, 57

Appendix A: Acronyms and Symbols, 65

Appendix B: Glossary, 66

Index, 68


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