U.S. Forest Service Grazing Policy

Sheep grazing under permit on the Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, 1927.

Although Congress identified the protection of timber and water supplies as the only objectives for the nation's forest reserves, sheep and cattle grazing immediately established a presence on forest and grasslands across the western United States. In fact, few uses of the public lands have proven more iconographic or potent than those represented by the livestock industry. From the romantic vision of the American cowboy to the devastated rangelands caused by "hooved locusts," grazing practices have led variously to both reform and rebellion. The U.S. Forest Service Headquarters History Collection at the Forest History Society includes early agency documents, scientific reports, and even a bilingual manual for handling sheep, all sources which document what remains a prominent presence on multiple use public lands.

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