Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2005
Publication Date: 2/24/2005
Citation: Grant, D.W., Reeder, S.J. 2005. Benefits of rangelands and range beef. Great Plains Grassland Conference. February 2005. CD Reeder Abstract. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Rangelands and range beef have many benefits for people and wildlife. Naturally occurring grasses are often the most sustainable form of vegetation on these lands, requiring little or no outside irrigation or fertilizer inputs. Properly managed cattle production allows rangelands to be used to produce a valuable agricultural product. Range cattle eat grass, keeping the pH of their digestive tracts high, so they need fewer antibiotics than corn-fed cattle. Grasslands in the Great Plains of North America have evolved over centuries with grazing from large herbivores, so these ecosystems generally benefit from properly managed livestock grazing. Rangeland also is a valuable wildlife habitat. Many wildlife species that inhabit rangelands can not inhabit cropland. Some species that inhabit rangeland, such as the mountain plover, benefit from the presence of large herbivores removing vegetation, allowing prey species to see and avoid predators. Rangeland is multiple-use land; recreation and hunting can supplement income from cattle production. Public rangelands are often used by outdoor enthusiast such as bird-watchers, hikers, mountain bikers, horse-back riders and hunters. Lands used for cattle production may also provide natural resources for other industries such as wind power, coal mining and timber harvesting. All of these factors support the notion that rangelands and properly managed range beef provide many benefits for people and wildlife in semi-arid ecosystems.