<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.