Trampling the Public Trust
60 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 29, 2010
Livestock production is a chief contributor to many significant and intractable environmental problems. This Article examines the causal role of livestock (especially beef) production in global climate change, predator control in the western United States, and winter elk feeding in Wyoming. It argues that ending livestock grazing on western public lands is a cost effective first step for dealing with these problems and is readily achievable under existing law. Removing livestock would lead to improved watershed conditions and make reintroduction of predators politically feasible, which would promote further recovery of landscapes impacted by native ungulate populations. Ending public-land grazing would facilitate the closure of (arguably unlawful) elk feedgrounds, which contribute to unnaturally high elk populations and promote the spread of diseases. Closing the feedgrounds would improve conditions on these sites and slow the spread of disease. Collectively, these measures would promote ecosystem restoration, which would enhance prospects for coping with climate change.
Keywords: livestock production, grazing, ecosystem, public lands
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