There is a growing probability that the sage grouse maybe added to the endangered species list. In Nevada and across the West, ranchers may see grazing land limits due to the sage grouse designation. The uncertainty of how much rangeland may be idled after designation has forced ranchers to consider alternative range management options. The most frequently discussed management options include: (1) reduced herd size, (2) lease more rangeland and maintain herd size, and (3) retirement. Certainly the amount of rangeland permits the rancher loses because of sage grouse habitat affects the ranchers' decision. A small reduction will allow the rancher to maintain most of his cowherd. However, larger reduction caused by sage grouse habitat that could cover most of the federal grazing land could encourage ranchers to make large reductions in herd size or retire. The purpose of this study was to analyze the economic consequences of reducing herd size on a representative ranch in Northeast Nevada if the ranch was faced with permanent loss of federal rangeland due to habitat protection for sage grouse. An economic model of a representative ranch with 650 mother cows in Elko County, Nevada was developed by Texas A&M Agricultural and Food Policy Center to analyze alternative scenarios of decreasing herd size as the federal grazing land was reduced due to habitat protection. Results of the stochastic financial ranch model showed that if the representative ranch was forced to reduce their herd size by more than 25 percent, the rancher might have to look at retirement or acquire more private or owned land to survive. The protection of the sage grouse at the cost of grazing land for cattle in the West could have a significant negative impact on the livelihood of ranchers across the region and their supporting industries.
Oral presentation and poster titles, abstracts, and authors from the Society for Range Management (SRM) Annual Meetings and Tradeshows, from 2013 forward.