Submitted to: Forest Service Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2003
Publication Date: 10/30/2003
Citation: SAYRE, N.F. RECOGNIZING HISTORY IN RANGE ECOLOGY: 100 YEARS OF SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT ON THE SANTA RITA EXPERIMENTAL RANGE. CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, SANTA RITA EXPERIMENTAL RANGE: 100 YEARS (1903 TO 2003) OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS. 2003. RMRS-P-30. P. 1-15. OGDEN, UT: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE, ROCKY MOUNTAIN RESEARCH STATION. Interpretive Summary: Interpretive summary not required for proceedings.
Technical Abstract: At the centennial of the Santa Rita Experimental Range, historical analysis is called for on two levels. First, as a major site in the history of range ecology, the Santa Rita illuminates past successes and failures in science and management and the ways in which larger social, economic and political factors have shaped scientific research. Second, with the turn away from equilibrium-based models in range science'a turn prompted in part by research at the Santa Rita'there is a growing need for history in range ecology itself. I discuss the needs, premises and events underlying establishment of the Santa Rita in 1903. Then, I examine the evolution of research and management recommendations through four major periods from 1901 to 1988, and I discuss the land swap that transferred the Santa Rita to state ownership in 1988 to 1991. Finally, I consider what effects the Santa Rita has had on rangelands and range management in the region. I argue that a static conception of the carrying capacity of Southwestern rangelands was imposed for economic and political reasons, over the objections or reservations of early range scientists at the Santa Rita, and that this may have contributed both to range depletion and to rancorous relations between public agencies and private ranchers in the twentieth century. To meet society's current demands on rangelands, the long-term, large-scale data assembled from the Santa Rita will be critically important.