|Ranching is as much a part of the West as its
wide-open spaces. The mystique of rugged individualism has sustained
this activity well past the frontier era and has influenced how we
view--and value--those open lands.
Nathan Sayre takes a close look
at how the ranching ideal has come into play in the conversion of a
large tract of Arizona rangeland from private ranch to National
Wildlife Refuge. He tells how the Buenos Aires Ranch, a working
operation for a hundred years, became not only a rallying point for
multiple agendas in the "rangeland conflict" after its conversion to a
wildlife refuge but also an expression of the larger shift from
agricultural to urban economies in the Southwest since World War II.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought the Buenos Aires Ranch in
1985, removed all livestock, and attempted to restore the land to its
"original" grassland in order to protect an endangered species, the
masked bobwhite quail.
Sayre examines the history of the ranch and the
bobwhite together, exploring the interplay of social, economic, and
ecological issues to show how ranchers and their cattle altered the
land -- for better or worse -- during a century of ranching and how the
masked bobwhite became a symbol for environmentalists who believe that
the removal of cattle benefits rangelands and wildlife.
Species, And Urbanization in the Southwest
Species Of Capital
by Nathan Freeman Sayre
University of Arizona Press,