Conclusions

I have demonstrated that application of some knowledge, logic, planning, sensitivity, and compromise could allow us to continue using most rangelands for traditional values as well as provide for preservation and even enhancement of biodiversity. Because of their rarity, desirability to research, and in guiding management, most areas that have escaped livestock use thus far should probably be protected. This will provide maximum landscape diversity, reference areas for monitoring and basic research, and materials for restoration efforts. For the much larger fraction of the rangelands that have had, and continue to have, extensive use, but are still dominated by native plant species, we should continue to apply our increasing knowledge of individual species responses, community dynamics, and ecosystem feedbacks in devising low-input ways to direct succession toward desired sustainable outcomes. Prescribed burning, behavioral modification of animals, and improved ways of distributing animals without fences should be further developed. If some compromise is deemed possible, livestock grazing systems compatible with wildlife, recreational use, watershed and soil protection, as well as biodiversity, can be devised. It is much cheaper and satisfying to prevent such seminatural areas from slipping over the brink of irreversible trends toward desertification than trying to rehabilitate or restore areas that have already been seriously degraded. We should not let the possibility of artificial recovery prevent us from concentrating on trying to develop sustainable use strategies for the rangelands still relatively intact.

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