This post from the past is a relevant as ever. As continued studies of the Native Americans past are conducted, it is being found that their presence in the America’s is much longer than previously thought and the cultures and vast populations of those various tribes has arguably been a deciding factor in our ecological past. We will probably never truly know what influence they had, but one thing is for certain. –The history of the future of our rangeland resource is not only in the Lords hands, but present-day mankind. — Think what the Rangeland Manager might do to influence the health of it.
At This Point in Time What Difference Does It Make?
While taking some graduate students on a tour of one of our grazing operations. (‘King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management’s Master of Science in Ranch Management Program’ Any young-ambitious, potential ranch manager can benefit greatly from this program. Applications are available at http://krirm.tamuk.edu/masters-program/) One of the students stated that it appeared I was trying to work the rangeland much the same as when the Buffalo, Elk, Antelope and other large ungulates did when man wasn’t an influence on the wildlife and rangeland. My answer was yes, but do we really understand how that assumed ecologically pristine environment really operated? We tend to think the Buffalo grazed heavily and moved on to graze fresh land, not to return for an extended time. Probably true, but what about all the numerous other species of animals that the rangeland supported? (The Lewis and Clark expedition marveled at the large numbers of wildlife present almost uninterrupted over the western landscape they explored.) One thing is for certain: The animals, grasses, forbs, soil microbes and countless other ‘critters’ developed over time with the strongest adaptors to the environment being the dominant survivors that the millennia produced, with natures heavy hand assisting. (Survival and adaptation of the fittest.) Keep in mind that archeological studies have found that humans (The native American Indians) came onto the American scene some 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. During this time period the last ice age ended, along with the extinction of the mammoth-short faced bear and others. Some give the newly arrived humans credit for their extinction, true are not, we need to study and understand what has happened.
According to one modern politician “At this point in time what difference does it make”. That is not an acceptable position to take, seeking to understand what has happened is important and gives us the wisdom as to how to approach the future. There is no doubt that man’s presence in the Americas has greatly influenced the ecological condition of our rangelands. – I’ll leave the determination of whose fault it is to others; Native Americans? The coming of Europeans? The reintroduction of the horse by the Spaniards? All of the above?- What nature developed over the millennia prior to mans influence is what produced the living organisms that we have to work with. If it is man’s wish to return to those assumed pristine days of yore, it is up to us to understand why our rangelands are in their current condition, then assist nature in recovering the environment that existed prior to man’s influence. There is little doubt that man has gained tremendously from that unspoiled resource the Americas offered upon his arrival. There is also little doubt that man has caused tremendous change to that natural resource, usually at great loss to what nature created. We as rangeland managers have the beginnings of a knowledge base to influence the correction of some of these travesties and owe it to our creator and for that matter the sustainability of our operations to try and return to those pristine levels.
Nothing is stagnant within nature. It is a continual evolution of change, always has been and always will be. Man can influence that change possibly more than any one source. (With the exception of the Lord of whom Nature is one of his most notable assistants.) When man works with nature, change for the better is always possible. We have the knowledge and energy to set this in motion, as many grassland producers are doing at this time. Many variations of grazing management are currently showing exciting results. Most all utilize some version of a graze-rest management program, just as the pre-man natural culture utilized.
Vine mesquite and dead prickly pear. Mmmm! Pear just couldn’t compete. No chemicals used here.