Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West

Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West

by George Wuerthner, Mollie Matteson
     
 

<p>In the American West, the sky is wide and the mountains are grand. Everything is on a big scale - including the debate over livestock production on the nation's public lands.<p>For more than a century, ranching and its associated activities (such as the growing of irrigated feed crops) has been the major land use over most of the western states. While many… See more details below

Overview

<p>In the American West, the sky is wide and the mountains are grand. Everything is on a big scale - including the debate over livestock production on the nation's public lands.<p>For more than a century, ranching and its associated activities (such as the growing of irrigated feed crops) has been the major land use over most of the western states. While many Americans think of cowboys as heroes and the "Wild West" as a place for cattle roundups and rodeos, others see livestock as a scourge upon the land. What is most disturbing to some activists is that ranching activities occur not only on private property but also on public lands - more than 300 million acres of federal, state, and other publicly owned lands are used by private ranching operations. For the most part, the ranching operations pay very low fees to run their livestock on these lands, and also receive numerous government subsidies including range improvements, fencing, and predator control.<p>Welfare Ranching presents one side of the debate over public lands ranching, offering a graphic look at the negative consequences of livestock production in the arid West. The authors highlight changes in the region that they see as being caused by ranching, and examine what they feel are problems associated with using tax dollars to support environmentally questionable activities. Through photographs and essays, the book shows examples of overgrazing along with what the authors argue are more subtle signs that indicate large - scale ecological disruption. The authors also discuss changes that could be made to help solve some of these problems.<p>Welfare Ranching gives one view of the cultural and historical causes of the current situation and offers a vision of possible renewal.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559639422
Publisher:
Island Press
Publication date:
08/28/2002
Edition description:
1
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
11.75(w) x 13.35(h) x 1.70(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Pt. IThis Land Is Your Land1
Public Lands Ranching: By the Numbers5
Ranching Myths7
The Iron Pentagon16
Pt. IICultural and Historical Roots: The Grasp of the Cowboy on Contemporary Consciousness18
In the Beginning: Cow23
Beef, Cowboys, the West: American Icons27
Land Held Hostage: A History of Livestock and Politics33
An Evil in the Season: The Cattleman's Welfare System Begins41
Pillaged Preserves: Livestock in National Parks and Wilderness Areas47
Free Speech: The Cowboy and His Cow57
Pt. IIILooking Across the Arid West: What's Wrong with This Picture?62
Understanding Range Management67
How to Look ... and See70
Pt. IVA Century of Trashing Public Lands: Ecological Impacts of Livestock Production in Arid Western Landscapes162
The Science of Nature and the Nature of Science: Questions of Fact and Value167
Surveying the West: A Summary of Research on Livestock Impacts171
Lifeblood of the West: Riparian Zones, Biodiversity, and Degradation by Livestock175
What the River Once Was: Livestock Destruction of Waters and Wetlands179
Cattle and Streams: Piecing Together a Story of Change185
Stink Water: Declining Water Quality Due to Livestock Production189
Guzzling the West's Water: Squandering a Public Resource at Public Expense195
The Soil's Living Surface: Biological Crusts199
Comrades in Harm: Livestock and Exotic Weeds in the Intermountain West203
Silent Springs: Threats to Frog Habitat from Livestock Production207
Native Snails: Indicators of Ecosystem Health211
Birds and Bovines: Effects of Livestock Grazing on Birds in the West217
Ranching in Bear Country: Conflict and Conservation221
A West Without Wolves: The Livestock Industry Hamstrings Wolf Recovery227
Prairie Dog Gone: Myth, Persecution, and Preservation of a Keystone Species231
Sage Grouse: Imperiled Icon of the Sagebrush Sea237
Where Bison Once Roamed: The Impacts of Cattle and Sheep on Native Herbivores241
A War Against Predators: The Killing of Wildlife Funded by Taxpayers247
A Heavy Toll: Native Animals Harmed by Livestock Production251
Pt. VRanching Economics and Livestock Subsidies: The True Cost of a Hamburger258
Taking Stock of Public Lands Grazing: An Economic Analysis263
Mortgaging Public Assets: How Ranchers Use Grazing Permits as Collateral271
It's What's for Dinner: The Health Costs of Meat279
Eating Is an Agricultural Act: Modern Livestock Agriculture from a Global Perspective283
Pt. VIFalse Hopes and Counterarguments: Ways to Stay Blind to the Critical Plight of Western Ecosystems286
The Donut Diet: The Too-Good-to-Be-True Claims of Holistic Management291
Just a Domestic Bison? Cattle Are No Substitute for Buffalo295
Cows or Condos: A False Choice Between Public Lands Ranching and Sprawl299
Using a Hammer to Swat Mosquitoes: Livestock as Management "Tools,"305
Pt. VIILooking for Solutions: Restoring the West and Wildlife308
The Last Roundup: Options for Ending Destructive Public Lands Ranching313
Upholding the Law: Litigation and Public Lands Livestock317
Our Vision322
Acknowledgments323
What You Can Do324
Groups to Contact324
Assessing Livestock Impacts on Public Lands325
Key References and Resources326
A Guide to Livestock-Free Landscapes327
Endnotes329
Index343

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