Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8, No. 2, 1998. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


The review of the 1996 report by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), title "Grazing on Public Lands," by Kathleen H. Keeler (Great Plains Research 7:356-357) was quite critical. As Chair of the CAST task force that researched and wrote the report, I am in a position to respond to the criticism and present an alternative view. Keeler suggested that the report: 1) lacked objectivity and presented an industry view of grazing on public lands; 2) was poorly documented, in spite of more than 240 references; 3) repetitive in presentation; and, 4) a waste of federal funds. First, the report was not a government publication; CAST, which funded the project, is made up of more than 30 different scientific and professional societies plus many individual members. Only $10,000 of federal monies were involved, a minor portion of the total cost. Second, the repetitiveness was deliberate, since the summaries are also used as stand-alone over-views for different purposes. This is true of all CAST reports. Third, and more important, we used all of the information available to us in developing our analysis, whether that information was in scientific journals, government documents or smaller studies. The conclusions represented a comprehensive consensus on grazing in public lands by an eminent group of senior scientists and range managers. The report does not argue for the status quo nor justify overgrazing; instead, this task force concluded, "proper grazing of rangelands is sustainable," and this conclusion is reiterated throughout our report.