Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West by George Wuerthner, Mollie Matteson |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
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

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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Whereas the effects of urban sprawl and clear-cut logging are readily apparent, the far-reaching and devastating consequences of large-scale livestock production are less obvious to the untrained eye. In this excellent overview of the ecological and economic consequences of ranching in the arid Western United States, natural historian and photographer Wuerthner and environmental activist Matteson present a collection of impassioned essays by scientists, conservationists, and economists. As writers like Edward Abbey, T.H. Watkins, and Carl Bock point out, livestock grazing has caused irreversible damage: it has degraded water quality, eroded the soil, introduced invasive plants, and endangered countless native plants and wildlife. Although the West accounts for less than three percent of U.S. meat production, livestock grazing occurs there on an enormous scale (a single cow uses one acre in Mississippi but 250 acres in Nevada). To provide enough space, three million acres of public land are being used by private ranchers with the help of government subsidies a consequence of the ranching industry's political power. This oversized book has 175 full-color photographs plus a resource directory and a bibliography. Although rather costly, it is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries and is particularly suitable for environmental and Western collections. Ilse Heidmann, Olympia, WA
Booknews
Cattle and sheep ranching on 3 million acres of public land out West take a beating with this huge club of a book (12x13<">) designed for a cattleman-size coffee table or a library map-table. Wuerthner, a jack-of-many-trades environmentalist, writes several articles, which are interspersed among some 35 penned by Edward Abbey, Terrence Frest, Stephanie Parent, and others (no contributor information provided). The book's large, unvivid pictures do not usually achieve their intended effect (which is, however, made explicit in captions indicating cattle-damaged land), because the content is not as obviously troubling as pictures in, say, DeVall's (1994). Compared to the book's ambiguous photographs, however, the prose is unambiguously anti-ranching in the arid West, but not necessarily anti-rancher: "The ranchers' plight is of great concern and must be dealt with in good faith...." Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology and distributed by Island Press. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559639439
Publisher:
Island Press
Publication date:
08/28/2002
Edition description:
1
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
11.75(w) x 13.35(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

George Wuerthner is the ecological projects director for the Foundation for Deep Ecology, where he does research and writes about environmental issues. For many years he was a full-time freelance photographer and writer and has published thirty-eight books on natural history, conservation history, ecology, and environmental issues.

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