The Wildlife News

Check out this blog about public lands, grazing issues, sage grouse, wolves, bison, and more. Administered by Ralph Maughan.

Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West by George Wuerthner

Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West tells the story of a vast region, sparsely populated by people but tragically battered by an activity many of us have mistakenly believed is benign. In fact, the production of livestock is incompatible with the ecological health of much of the lands in the West. Aridity is chief among the factors limiting compatible uses of western landscapes. Over decades, the placement of exotic, water-hogging, ill-adapted livestock on western lands has changed diverse native plant communities into monocultures of weeds: turned perennially flowing creeks into dry stream beds: relegated large predators such as wolves and grizzly bears to only the most remote wilderness areas: and forced many wildlife species to the edge of extinction.

Buy the print version here:

Download the PDF here: 

Full Version (380mb)

Part 1 (86mb)

Part 2 (119mb)

Part 3 (165mb)

Waste of the West is for people who care about nature. As much as an eye-opening educational tool, it is a call to action. Waste of the West is, and probably will remain, the most complete account of public lands ranching ever assembled. With easy-reading text and more than 1000 photos, drawings, cartoons, graphs, and charts on 602 (8.5" x 11") pages, Lynn Jacobs explores every facet of this obscure yet vitally important issue. 

Waste of the West is one of the best deep dives into understanding the impacts of livestock grazing on the ecosystems of the arid West. 

This Land by Christopher Ketchum

In the spirit of Ed Abbey, a must-read concerning public lands livestock grazing. 

From Penguin Random House the publisher: A hard-hitting look at the battle now raging over the fate of the public lands in the American West–and a plea for the protection of these last wild places.

The public lands of the western United States comprise some 450 million acres of grassland, steppe land, canyons, forests, and mountains. It’s an American commons, and it is under assault as never before.

Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching  by Mike Hudak

Western Turf Wars  tells the stories of the real heroes of the Wild West in their own words—penetrating the media fictions of the past to reveal the stories of ordinary people who stand up for our environmental laws even when doing so subjects them to political coercion in the workplace or persecution in the com­mun­i­ties where they live.

If you would like a copy of the book (out of print) please contact Mike at and he can send you a copy (for $25 + shipping) so long as copies remain. Otherwise you can read the book (or download it) from

See also Public Lands Project at

Torrey House Press

The Intermountain West's only nonprofit environmental book publisher, based in Salt Lake City. At

Andy Kerr's Public Lands Blog

An excellent blog by conservationist Andy Kerr on public lands, Wilderness, Oregon issues, and livestock grazing.

Arizona Grazing Clearinghouse

See Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.

Wildlands Defense

Our friends at WildLands Defense work to inspire and empower the preservation of wild lands and wildlife in the West with decades of field experience in the sagebrush sea. See

A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands

Rosentreter, R., M. Bowker, and J. Belnap. 2007. A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands. U.S. Government Printing Office, Denver, Colorado.

A helpful field guide for the diverse mosses and lichens in Western grasslands and sagebrush communities. Available digitally at

Welsh-2005-big sagebrush fragmented.pdf

Big Sagebrush: A Sea Fragmented

By Bruce Welch (2005), Rocky Mountain Research Station, US Forest Service. 

Pioneers traveling along the Oregon Trail from western Nebraska, through Wyoming and

southern Idaho and into eastern Oregon, referred to their travel as an 800 mile journey through a sea of sagebrush, mainly big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Today approximately 50 percent of the sagebrush sea has given way to agriculture, cities and towns, and other human developments. What remains is further fragmented by range management practices, creeping expansion of woodlands, alien weed species, and the historic view that big sagebrush is a worthless plant. Two ideas are promoted in this report: (1) big sagebrush is a nursing mother to a host of organisms that range from microscopic fungi to large mammals, and (2) many range management practices applied to big sagebrush ecosystems are not science based.

Download the PDF from our Public Library Google Drive (or click on image above).

Shrinking Sagebrush Sea.pdf

The Shrinking Sagebrush Sea

By Mark Salvo (2008), a Report from WildEarth Guardians.

Spatial analyses of threats to sagebrush-steppe and greater sage-grouse.

Download the PDF from our Public Library Google Drive (or click on image above).


Countering Misinformation Concerning Big Sagebrush

By Bruce Welch and Craig Criddle (2003), Rocky Mountain Research Station, U.S. Forest Service.

This paper examines the scientific merits of eight axioms of range or vegetative management

pertaining to big sagebrush. These axioms are: (1) Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) does not naturally exceed 10 percent canopy cover and mountain big sagebrush (A. t. ssp. vaseyana) does not naturally exceed 20 percent canopy cover; (2) As big sagebrush canopy cover increases over 12 to15 percent, bare ground increases and perennial grass cover decreases; (3) Removing, controlling, or killing big sagebrush will results in a two or three or more fold increase in perennial grass production; (4) Nothing eats it; (5) Biodiversity increases with removing, controlling, thinning, or killing of big sagebrush; (6) Mountain big sagebrush evolved in an environment with a mean fire interval of 20 to 30 years; (7) Big sagebrush is an agent of allelopathy; and (8) Big sagebrush is a highly competitive, dominating, suppressive plant species.

Download the PDF from our Public Library Google Drive (or click on image above).

Slaton&Stone 2013.pdf

Sagebrush Natural Range of Variation: Sierra Nevada and South Cascades 

By  Michèle Slaton and  Heather Stone (2013), Inyo National Forest.

An assessment of sagebrush species centering on eastern California and Oregon, using geography, history, ecology, fire ecology, and cultural use.

Download the PDF from our Public Library Google Drive (or click on image above).

1991 by Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. 

By Jim Catlin, September 2009, Wild Utah Project.

Livestock grazing on BLM lands, as has been traditionally practiced, has had a profound impact on the health of our public lands. In order to understand these impacts and work for positive change, I suggest a few simple activities that any volunteer can undertake. I advocate field methods that help you describe in an objective non-emotional way what is going on in your special place and how this is inconsistent (or consistent) with BLM’s standards. 

These activities will give you factual information that, when used with BLM’s own terms, can make you more effective with BLM and others. By using the language found on BLM’s own standards when presenting your information, you make clear BLM’s obligations. 

Low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula), northeastern Nevada.