Date of Award:

1999

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Sociology

Advisor/Chair:

Richard S. Krannich

Abstract

The rural west in this country faces increased national pressure concerning the iii management of natural resources on public lands. Issues regarding natural resource management are becoming more important as they continue to affect rural communities and capture the attention of a variety of interest groups. Natural resource managers are increasingly required to consider social dimensions of resource use and management. Lack of consideration in these areas can lead to dissatisfied, and even hostile, local residents and interest groups. Often land managers face criticism from many groups at once as a result of management decisions.

This study analyzed a particular resource issue in a particular region of the west: grazing management in Catron County, New Mexico. The findings indicate a complex social structure with an historical base in natural resource dependence, and a personal independence from highly regulated grazing management. Changes in national legislation and changes in the Forest Service over time have contributed to the erosion of relationships between the Forest Service and ranchers and environmentalists. A socially informed, pragmatic and proactive approach to grazing management is currently lacking in Catron County.

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