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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: History of Nevada Rangelands

Authors
item Young, James
item Clements, Darin

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 8, 2006
Publication Date: February 12, 2007
Citation: Young, J.A., Clements, C.D. 2007. History of Nevada Rangelands [abstract]. Society for Range Management National Meeting, February 9-16, 2007, Reno, Nevada.

Technical Abstract: In 150 years Nevada has gone from a largely vacant desert that Americans dreaded to cross, to one of the fastest growing states in the nation. In between, it was a cowboy and mining state with a broken State government that opted for liberal marriage, divorce laws and legalized gambling to help pay the taxes. Longhorn cattle were driven from Texas to fully stock Nevada ranges in the 1870s. The winter of 1890-1899 killed 90% of these animals. Out of this wreckage grew the model that you had to have a ton of hay for each brood cow to make it through the winter. This hay could only be grown under irrigation and only 5% of the land area of the state could be irrigated with surface water diversions. Only about 13% of the land area of Nevada ever became private land. By default, the Federal government became the steward of the remainder of the landscape. The most productive high mountain ranges came under the administration of the U S Department of Agriculture, Forest Service early in the 20th century. The bulk of the big sagebrush and salt desert ranges remained open range until the Taylor Grazing Act was passed in 1934 and the U S Department of Interior, Grazing Service was established. Starting in the 1890s, a huge range sheep industry developed in Nevada in addition to cattle and a significant horse and mule production on rangelands, the latter included remount production for the U S Calvary. The sheep and horse industries have largely disappeared from rangelands, but a free roaming equine management program persists. Wildfires dominate current range management concerns in the Silver State. What will the emerging 21st century bring?

Last Modified: 8/2/2014
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