Biome Books

Western Turf Wars
The Extracanonical Books
In conducting my research for Western Turf Wars, I acquired more material than would reasonably fit into the final work. Over the next several months, beginning April 2008, I will be releasing at no charge that material to which I refer as “extracanonical.” Each of these additional “books” will be made available in two formats: html for online viewing and pdf for printing.

The books:
Darrell Barnes, a thirty-year veteran of the BLM, served as district manager of Wyoming’s Worland District from 1994 until his retirement in 2004. In that capacity Barnes was drawn into a thirteen-year conflict with rancher permittee Harvey Frank Robbins Jr. over the management of Robbins’s federal grazing allotments.

Robbins’s political connections at the highest levels of the federal government produced an agreement that absolved Robbins of past alleged violations of his grazing permit and neutralized the BLM’s ability to enforce additional permit violations. Robbins further sought damages through the courts against Barnes and other BLM employees for actions they performed in their capacity with the BLM. Only a legal challenge by environmental organizations motivated the government to retract its illegal agreement with Robbins. Subsequently, an adverse opinion by the US Supreme Court prevented Robbins from proceeding with his racketeering suit against Barnes and his fellow BLM employees. Although Robbins is wealthier (enabling his greater access to the courts) and better politically connected than most public lands ranchers, this case is just the extreme, but hardly the exception, to the pressure exerted upon land management agencies and their employees by the livestock industry.

Although much has been written in the press about the Robbins conflict, this interview transcript contains the most extensive remarks by Barnes that is available on the Internet.
        Viewing Format:  HTML    PDF
        View a video excerpt from Barnes’s interview.
Len Carpenter, raised on a cattle ranch, received his PhD from Colorado State University, and investigated elk and mule deer issues for Colorado Division of Wildlife for many years before becoming the Southwest field representative for the Wildlife Management Institute. Carpenter provides his perspective on the environmental, economic, social, and political aspects of ranching on western public lands.
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        View video excerpts from Carpenter’s interview.
Jim Cooper, began his career as a fisheries biologist in 1966 with the Montana Fish and Game Department. Over succeeding years he went on to serve with both the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. In his interview, Cooper recounts his experiences with the managment of livestock on several national forests of the western United States. And he points out factors within the Forest Service that contributed to its poor management of that activity.
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Stephen B. Monsen, a descendant of 19th century Mormon sheep ranchers, had a long career as a grassland researcher with the USDA Intermountain Research Station in Provo, UT. He speaks about the history of Great Basin grassland restoration projects and the dire state of many Great Basin grasslands today.
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        View a video excerpt from Monsen’s interview.
Ray Neiwert served as a range conservationist on national forests in Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho during his twenty-seven year career with the US Forest Service. Here he reflects on deficiencies he witnessed in the management of that agency.
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        View a video excerpt from Neiwert’s interview.
Greg Schneider, resident of Danville, California, recounts his experiences with cattle grazing in what is now called the Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve, part of the East Bay Regional Park District. There, cattle trampled streams, decimated vegetation, and often attacked park visitors and their companion animals. Schneider reveals the surreal world of park management where environmental science and public safety take a back seat to rancher dollars.
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