Politics and Public Rangeland Policy
Proposals to reform the management of livestock grazing on public rangelands continue to encounter considerable resistance from advocates of the status quo despite increasing concern among environmentalists about the ecological condition of federal lands. As with other natural resource issues, public range policies were originally developed to encourage industrial growth and the provision of economic opportunity. This chapter discusses policy decisions affecting grazing programs administered by the US Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service since the 1960s and an analysis of why fluctuations in policy occur. Key factors considered include the impact of shifting political coalitions over time and the strategic manipulation of both short-term circumstances, such as media events or publication of evaluative studies on range program operations by policy actors on both sides, and larger sociopolitical forces, such as fluctuating economic conditions or election outcomes.