The Social Debate

The heart of the public lands grazing controversy can only be found in human values. Some believe that the public lands are innately invaluable and should not be grazed by domestic livestock or exploited by humans at any cost. Wilderness, they say, is a necessary antidote to our modern civilization. On the other extreme are those who do not even recognize the government's legitimacy to regulate the "public lands", that based on historical claims should still belong to homesteading ranchers. Still others suggest that forage rights to public lands should be privatized and sold on the market to ranchers and conservationists alike freeing each to pursue his/her own management objectives. In addition, some citizens feel that because public lands grazing supports a unique culture and Western tradition, that it should be allowed to continue. Others argue that the mythical cowboy of the "Old West" never really existed and that civilized people should be allowed to enjoy nature without stepping on cowpies. Indisputable is that a population surge is transforming the demographics of the region often producing a clash of cultures between the old and the new. If the "New West" is to be harmonious, the two will need to learn to accommodate each other. The resources found here explore the variable human values regarding Western rangelands and the proposals put forth for their fate.
Evaluating the ranchers' historical claim to Western lands

Learning to live together

  • Saguaro-Juniper Corporation: A group of some sixty share-holding "associates" holding over private deeded land, a state grazing lease, private leases, and collaborate with other groups. The associates would more likely characterize themselves as stewards or even servants of the land than owners.