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Welfare Ranching reveals the deplorable practices that are ripping apart the ecological fabric of the arid West, where subsidized livestock grazing occurs on more than 300 million acres of publicly owned land. The book offers a graphic look at the consequences of using taxpayer dollars to turn the West into a giant feedlot for cattle and sheep - the slaughter of predators, a growing number of endangered species, polluted rivers and streams, an increase in soil erosion, and weed invasion, to name just a few. Through dramatic photographs and scientifically supported essays, the book shows that wherever cattle are grazing at the public trough, severe and sometimes irreversible ecological damage results. Fauna of all kinds are extirpated, endangered, or driven to extinction; riparian zones are trammeled and degraded; introductions of exotic grasses and foiled mitigation attempts abound. For years the true impacts of livestock grazing have gone unnoticed as the landscape has been altered slowly over time, making the changes difficult to discern. With more than 150 powerful photographs, Welfare Ranching vividly illustrates the difference between lands appropriated for livestock productio
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George Wuerthner is the ecological projects director for the Foundation for Deep Ecology, where he does research and writes about environmental issues. For many years he was a full-time freelance photographer and writer and has published thirty-eight books on natural history, conservation history, ecology, and environmental issues.
Whereas the effects of urban sprawl and clear-cut logging are readily apparent, the far-reaching and devastating consequences of large-scale livestock production are less obvious to the untrained eye. In this excellent overview of the ecological and economic consequences of ranching in the arid Western United States, natural historian and photographer Wuerthner and environmental activist Matteson present a collection of impassioned essays by scientists, conservationists, and economists. As writers like Edward Abbey, T.H. Watkins, and Carl Bock point out, livestock grazing has caused irreversible damage: it has degraded water quality, eroded the soil, introduced invasive plants, and endangered countless native plants and wildlife. Although the West accounts for less than three percent of U.S. meat production, livestock grazing occurs there on an enormous scale (a single cow uses one acre in Mississippi but 250 acres in Nevada). To provide enough space, three million acres of public land are being used by private ranchers with the help of government subsidies a consequence of the ranching industry's political power. This oversized book has 175 full-color photographs plus a resource directory and a bibliography. Although rather costly, it is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries and is particularly suitable for environmental and Western collections. Ilse Heidmann, Olympia, WA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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