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PRIVATE GRAZING ON PUBLIC LANDS: Uncovering the Struggle Between Dollars and Sense



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PRIVATE GRAZING ON PUBLIC LANDS Uncovering the Struggle Between Dollars and Sense by Spencer Reed Cearns A Thesis Essay of Distinction Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Environmental Studies The Evergreen State College June 2010 This Thesis for the Masters of Environmental Study Degree by Spencer Reed Cearns has been approved for The Evergreen State College by Tyrus L Smith Member of the Faculty June 9 2010 2010 Spencer Reed Cearns All rights reserved Abstract Cattle have been grazing on America s rangelands since the first settlers ventured westward While settlements occurred along rivers and streams the dryer less fertile rangelands were used by ranchers to graze their cattle As time went on these dry rangelands became increasingly contested by other land users and land disputes became common In 1897 the federal government stepped in and began issuing grazing permits by charging a fee administered by the Forest Service but the permits accounted for a small portion of the vast lands in the West Ranchers were still free to roam their cattle on the majority of public lands Fastforward to today and the problem of private grazing on public lands has become a hotly contested problem both financially and more importantly environmentally This thesis offers environmentally charged policy based strategies addressing the impacts that overgrazing has caused to the arid west and suggests a few possible solutions to end the problem Suggestions are made as to how the agencies involved can utilize regulations that are already in place to alter the management of the grazing permit program in order to bring about ecological change and environmental remediation of the land By utilizing the proposal that would implement a yearly incremental increase in the grazing fee as discussed with an eye toward allowing the rangelands time to recover the agencies involved could increase the amount of money taken in by the grazing permit system and



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