Rangeland Habitats Become Lost to Development
One of the most serious challenges facing the western U.S. is the loss of rangelands to development. Rangelands provide important habitat for wildlife, grazing land for the economically important livestock industry, recreational opportunities, and other ecosystem goods and services. Changes in tenure and ownership have promoted new attitudes towards land that are shifting the direction of land use and management. Grazing has been curtailed as working rangelands are subdivided for development, and private lands are experiencing increasing rates of subdivision. The intermixing of small, unmanaged parcels with extensive rangelands hampers wildland fire protection and invasive weed species control and impedes the capabilities of public land management agencies. Fragmentation can also result in the degradation or loss of important ecosystems. Failure to address issues of rangeland fragmentation could decrease the sustainability of agricultural operations and rural communities in the western U.S. and have serious implications for rural communities, local governments, agricultural operations, and natural resources in the region.
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