Submitted to: International Rangeland Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: There are six human activities in the United States which typically have impacts on biodiversity of rangelands. These activities are: 1) managed grazing by domestic or feral animals, 2) implementation of remediation, restoration or forage improvement practices, 3) removal or reduction of fauna, especially predators, 4) introduction (planned or unplanned) of new species or reintroduction of native species, 5) conversion to crop lands and 6) urban-based development and recreation. Activities 1 and 2 are guided by well-based management principles. Activities 3 and 4 can be impacted not only by many different institutions but by the bulk of our population. Activities 5 and 6 are guided (or misguided) by agricultural policies, economic conditions, societal demands and political actions. These activities create competing demands that often require legal interventions and interpretations of a myriad of laws. Increasingly, interventions by our legal system aggravate situations and result in "management by court decree." Often the two most impacted activities are grazing and range improvements even though these are the most easily managed of the six. Relative to species biodiversity, this has resulted in 1) species-by-species management and 2) management paralysis due to legal constraints, either real or perceived. These aggravated situations are being resolved by sporadic development of local community partnerships among grazers, land managers and environmentalists to conserve not only species biodiversity, but rural economic vitality and ecological integrity. The prognosis for these independent local efforts to overcome paralysis of management by court decree is excellent if the federal government acts to assist rather than to impede or ignore these partnerships.