Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland Page: 27
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herbivores can cause a change in vegetative structure of an area. This action causes a
detrimental effect to land. Some associated negative effects are loss of plant and animal species,
invasion of exotic plants, erosion, desertification, loss of hydrologic function, and spread of
disease (Fleischner, 1994). For rangeland managers, this can mean a decrease in productivity
and health of livestock, as well as the loss of land available for future practices (Mowry, 2007).
Overstocking with livestock and drought has caused great ecological harm on the
rangeland. This, of course, is not sustainability; it is also in contrast to native grazing
ecosystems (Provenza, 2003b). Conditions that caused this problem include ignorance, apathy,
policy and desperation. "Ranching can be sustainable if it can convert to a self reproducing
resource into a profitable commodity without undermining the long-term viability of the
resource" (Sayre, 2001). Generally, the more sedentary and concentrated animal use of the
vegetation under human management removes the key revitalizing element of periodic dererment
and natural response to climate variation (Teague et al., 2008). The rangeland must renew itself
every year, and be harvested by livestock in an economical fashion. The common practice of
maintenance of artificially high animal numbers with supplementary feed during less productive
periods promotes degradation (Oesterheld et al., 1992; Milchunas and Lauenroth,, 1993).
U.S. Policy: Impact on Rangeland
A close look the cattle boom years of American history (70 years between the Civil War
and the Dust Bowl) indicates that rangeland deterioration began to occur because of personal
philosophy and government policy surrounding cattle and land. These seven decades saw land
use change from Spanish/Mexican pastoralism to modern ranching, with a hybrid (open range)
period in between. Combinations of factors were necessary to have caused the devastation
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Becker, Wayne. Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103289/m1/38/: accessed March 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .