Society of Beautiful-landscapes-Where-Cows-Roam Management

As I get ready to head to the SRM (Society of Range Management) Annual meeting in Spokane, WA this weekend, I’m starting to get really excited about meeting other people as nerdy as I am about this kind of stuff.

I’m a little obsessed with public land management and agriculture, especially after working with the BLM in cowboy country for 8 months. My family doesn’t get it, my friends from home in NYC don’t get it. Why would you want to spend your time in the middle of nowhere… and think about cows??

I’m not sure. But I love it. And I admit, I’m not in love with just cows. I’m also in love with the awesome grass species they eat and the awesome volcanic geological history they walk on, and the awesome wildlife they share the wide open spaces with. And, they’re also just delicious.

When I was growing up in New York, I used to think that cattle ranching in the West was a bad thing, that it was taking something irreplaceable from the ecosystems and produces a net negative effect on the landscape. But, it turns out that no one in NY knows anything about cattle, or ranching, or ecosystems in the Great Basin! Whoops. I’ve been so impressed by the ambitious goals of sustainability, both environmental and economic, that the BLM is committed to, and I quickly learned that (much to my disbelief as a life-long horse-lover) the beautiful wild horses romanticized in my childhood and Mid-Atlantic U.S. culture, actually cause dramatically larger ecological problems than cows. Cows are well-managed and the management is dynamic and informed by ecological theory and monitoring. The active management of horses on the other hand, because of little high school NY activists like me 10 years ago (!), is incredibly restricted due to public disapproval. Because they’re cute.

Anyway, I am ridiculously excited to begin my career in this field and to stay in Oregon and to eat lots of cows and to love these amazing landscapes.  I will start working with the Agricultural Research Service as a Technician for plant community ecology research this summer, and the SRM meeting will sort of confirm for me that this is actually happening.  

From the tallest town in Oregon,

Lisa at the Lakeview BLM

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