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New West Daily Roundup for Mar. 27, 2017

Today in New West news: study suggests some cattle grazing may help greater sage grouse, an update on Montana Water Artesian Company, and GREENbike vs. inversion.

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Allan Savory: Holistic Management in Grassland Management

For forty years Allan Savory has been promoting the idea that rangelands suffer from too much rest—in fact, Savory claims that if ungrazed by livestock grasslands will become decadent and die. His faith in Holistic Management to stimulate grassland health was examined at a recent conference in Boulder.

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Bison Slaughter A Smoke Screen for Livestock Industry

Deep snow in Yellowstone National Park is once again forcing bison to seek out winter range at lower elevation. In their search for exposed forage, bison naturally wander to snow-free lands outside of the park. Unfortunately for the bison, once they leave the park, they are killed by the Montana Dept. of Livestock ostensibly in the name of controlling brucellosis. Brucellosis cnotrol is being used to hide another objective of the livestock industry--to prevent the restoration of bison on public lands--which would be a threat to public lands grazing across the West.

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Cows or Condos: A False Choice Between Public Lands Ranching and Sprawl

The land area utilized for livestock production-including rangelands, pasture, and the production of forage crops (corn, soybeans, alfalfa, etc.)-occupies 65-75 percent of the total U.S. acreage, excluding Alaska, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics ( USDA 1997b). Four crops account for approximately eighty percent of all acreage planted per year in this country: hay, corn, soybeans, and wheat. All but wheat are grown primarily to feed livestock (USDA 1997a). In comparison, (and again, not counting Alaska), the amount of land taken up by sprawl and development is slightly more than four percent (USDA 1997a). In the West, urban and suburban landscapes, including fairly low-density subdivisions, occupy an even smaller fraction of land than in the country as a whole. Sprawl, though a serious and usually permanent blight where it occurs, is not the major ecological threat to the natural systems of the West for the very reason that it is-despite the connotation of the term-confined to a limited area.

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The Hard Questions Of Raising Bison For Supper

Do you know where your meat comes from? Was the animal raised and killed with "compassion?" Do its survivors grieve? Bob Jackson says it all sounds so New Age, so Left of center, so radically alternative, so touchy feely, and yet many Americans are making a conscious shift in their diets and attitudes toward more healthful, natural foods. As the movement gains both cultural and economic momentum, consumers also are facing questions they never pondered before. One of the native edibles appearing increasingly on family dinner menus is bison. Over the last several days, NewWest.Net has carried on a conversation with "Action" Jackson, the bison rancher who first made headlines as an outspoken backcountry ranger who battled big game poachers in the wilds of Yellowstone. But every autumn when he went home to Iowa for the winter, Jackson's lesser-known parallel life took shape as he steadily grew his own bison herd. In this, the conclusion to our interview with Jackson, he takes readers metaphorically and physically into his own backyard where he has enlisted bison to become a better land steward and to tweak the sensibilities of our consumer, fast-food society.

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Guest Column: We Ought Not Grow Cows In Dry West

In a notoriously dry region like the American West, guest columnist George Wuerthner minces no words when it comes to the suitability of turning domestic livestock loose on the public range: Cattle and sheep, he says, do not belong. Portraying beef cows as a yoke hanging around the necks of wild ecosystems and fragile natural resources, he says livestock production is "by far the worse environmental catastrophe to befall the West." It's especially bad, he claims, because of the natural aridity. In an age of global warming when hotter temperatures are expected to cook the deserts even more, and where even wetter places will endure rises in heat that last longer and suck the moisture out of the ground faster, he believes it's time for society to truly assess if the mythical land of cowboys is really a good place to produce red meat. -Todd Wilkinson

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America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

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Predator Control Once Again Comes Within The Crosshairs Of Critics

Like cattle branding, the aerial gunning of coyotes has been an annual tradition in the West, carried out to clear the landscape of canid predators that eat newborn calves and lambs. A recent episode of aerial gunning in southeastern Arizona brings several questions to the forefront again: Is aerial gunning a biologically and fiscally effective means of controlling coyotes? Should it be carried out on federal publics lands and if the answer to the question is yes, then who should pay for it?

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