Witness Statements from the hearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation on “Increasing Carbon Soil Sequestration on Public Lands” held on June 25, 2014.
We have posted on our site some of the most useful studies, analyses and other material to help understand the facts about grazing on public lands. These materials illustrate that much of what policy makers, the public and the media think they know about grazing and its impacts on the land are incorrect. For example, these materials make it clear that when properly done, grazing can improve rangeland resources. Understanding the science and the real, on the ground experience summarized here is the essential first step to developing and implementing range management policies that truly serve the public interest.
Summary of material posted:
SPECIAL REPORT Exposing Anti-Livestock Bias in Federal Culture Brave Souls Refuting the "Dark Dehumanizing Dream." By Steve Rich. The truth is, long term livestock removal in the West is usually an environmental disaster. What else could you call something that wipes out most plants and most wildlife? Full text of paper here.
"Ranching is For the Birds" by Steve Rich. Birds as a class are great indicators of rangeland health. They have high metabolic rates and therefore need lots of high quality food on a continuous basis. They have very specific habitat requirements for feeding and nesting. Most species need to drink water at least daily. Because of all this, birds love well managed ranches. Full text of paper here.
“Controlled Grazing Versus Grazing Exclusion Impact on Rangeland Ecosystems: What We Have Learned” by New Mexico Range Professor Dr. Jerry Holechek. This broad, peer reviewed survey of science literature exposes false beliefs about livestock use. Using standard criteria for valid methodology and study design, Dr. Holechek eliminated from this paper studies which fail to control for timing, intensity, duration and class of livestock, thereby making their data and conclusions invalid. This process eliminates most anti-grazing literature, revealing it to be biased and unscientific. Dr. Holechek’s findings may be summarized as follows: “In conclusion, there is scientific evidence that controlled grazing can play an important role in managing, maintaining and improving rangelands in arid and semi-arid regions for a variety of uses and ecosystem services…Claims that managed, information based livestock grazing is unsustainable in arid and semi-arid areas are refuted.” Full text of paper here.
“Report to the Governor of New Mexico From the Public Lands Grazing Task Force.” Reporting the results of hearings held from 2000 to 2002, the task force found that allotment holder distrusted and feared Forest Service and BLM employees, many of whom they said falsified records, removed records, indulged in personal agendas rather than performing their duty, misapplied scientific methodology through incompetence and knavery” and needlessly injured rural cultures and economies. It cites a New Mexico State University researcher reporting that Forest Service personnel, allegedly using the methodology this researcher himself developed, determined an allotment stocking rate which was only about half the carrying capacity the researcher himself found was appropriate for the allotment using the same methodology. Full report available here.
Video, “The Ultimate Solution: The Failure of Livestock Removal in the West.” This short film examines the cultural roots of overgrazing and the European cultural belief that removing livestock will repair western rangelands. It compares rangeland in national monuments to ranches using scientific grazing standards and methods. It conclusively and clearly demonstrates this result: well managed ranches are far healthier and biodiverse than livestock excluded lands. The script of the video is available here. The video itself can be ordered at cost from the Rangeland Restoration Academy, the educational institution that produced it.
“Perspectives in Grazing” is publication produced by the North Dakota Private Lands Grazing Coalition and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) discusses several successful grazing strategies. Typical of NRCS publications and policy, it lists many benefits from managed grazing. Among them are: “improved soil health, more wildlife, greater economic return, lessened drought impacts, reduced runoff, increased range health, increased carrying capacity, surplus grass, better nutrition , species diversity, improved wildlife habitat, increased forage production, healthier and heavier calves, healthier livestock and improved water quality.” This publication illustrates the clear contrast and vast inconsistencies between federal and private land grazing policy. Along with other NRCS and NRCS funded documents, it effectively refutes the claims and criticisms of anti-grazing activists. Entire document available here.