chapter  17
21 Pages

Future Prospects of Grasslands and Ranching on the North American Scene

ByPaul F. Starrs, Lynn Huntsinger

In this day and age, it makes little sense to discuss a biome or environment, such as grasslands, without taking into account the effects of human uses and abuses, conscious or otherwise, on habitat and ecological systems. Grazed grasslands are, in fact, almost invariably rangelands, until they are plowed or paved or put to another use, and we are their most aggressive agents of transformation. This volume would be remiss to ignore some of the complicated yet predictable ways that humans alter grassland environments. Grazing, plowing, harvesting, afforesting, urbanizing, crop-sowing or accidentally seeding invasive species are but a few of the ways in which the prospects of grasslands are changed. The dominant use of grasslands in North America remains grazing and, therefore, ranching can be either a force for stability, or an economy on the verge of substantial alteration, transformation, or even obliteration (Kolbert, 2014).