Launchbaugh range propaganda

Source:  The Wildlife News


In a March 26th Times News article, Karen Launchbaugh, a University of Idaho range professor, propagandized misleading ideas about livestock grazing. Like nearly all range professor, Ms. Launchbaugh, sees her job as promoting livestock grazing. I know because I studied range management both as an undergraduate and in grad school, so familiar with the emphasis that one gets in such programs.

As is typical of the range “profession”, a term I use loosely, proponents of range management see ranchers as their constituency, not the general public.

So it’s not surprising that Ms. Launchbaugh only tells half of the story about the negative impacts of livestock grazing. Now for the rest of the story.

First, Launchbaugh asserts that “grazing has always been part of sagebrush ecosystems”.  This is a half-truth. Yes, ground squirrels, grasshoppers, jackrabbits and other smaller animals, along with modest herds of deer and pronghorn have always grazed sagebrush ecosystems, but throughout most of the Great Basin including southern Idaho, large herds of grazing bison were rare or absent. As a consequence, native grasses and soils are intolerant of grazing pressure.

Another example of a half-truth is Launchbaugh assertion that livestock can reduce cheatgrass through grazing. It is misleading because of the short time window when livestock will consume cheatgrass.

Livestock will eat cheatgrass early in the season while it is green. This is usually no more than 2-4 weeks. Most ranchers are unwilling to go through the collecting and transport of their cattle out to a site to graze it for such a short time.

Furthermore, since cattle will tend to graze the more desirable native grasses first, if there are any of these plants left on a site, they suffer from overgrazing.

Third, cheatgrass is favored by soil trampling and destruction of soil crusts—something that cannot be avoided, especially if cattle are bunched up to target grazing of cheatgrass.

Then she compounds all her previous flawed assertions by suggesting that grazing can prevent large range fires.  Sure, if you graze a pasture down to a golf course with inch-high stubble, fires are less likely to spread.

However, rangelands that are depleted to stubble provide no hiding cover for wildlife and reduce forage that might support native wildlife. Native plant species suffer and soil is compacted. And any grazing that is that so severe so as to reduce grasses to stubble will invariably trample biocrusts, wetlands and riparian areas.


Karen Launchbaugh




    Public Universities Get an Education in Private Industry
    Can academic researchers remain impartial if they are beholden to corporate money?

    At the University of California, Davis, researchers are regularly invited to attend on-campus meet-and-greets with potential corporate funders to discuss possible sponsorship opportunities. Handshakes and business cards are routinely exchanged-so are nondisclosure agreements.

    Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at U.C. Davis, says such meetings and the attendant nondisclosure agreements are commonplace and that it’s university administrators-rather than the corporations themselves-who encourage their professors and researchers to attend. Eisen describes one meeting in which a company started out by passing around a document. “It was a 13-page agreement, and I refused to sign it,” Eisen says. “I said: ‘Look, there are 20 things in here I don’t understand and 15 things I completely disagree with. There’s no way I’m signing it.’”

    But, unlike Eisen, many in the scientific community and academia do sign the NDAs—creating blind spots that make it impossible for the rest of the world to discern whether a corporation has had any undue influence on research. I spent a year poring over documents and talking to universities, companies, lawyers, and researchers to figure out what kind of role corporate funding plays in public-university studies across the United States. Nearly all of the people I spoke with talked about the increasing ease with which corporate representatives have access to researchers, although some were more comfortable with the arrangement than others.

    Liked by 1 person


    Public Universities Get an Education in Private Industry
    Can academic researchers remain impartial if they are beholden to corporate money?

    Often it is the companies themselves that provide the most information about educational outreach.
    The Dow Chemical Company website, for example, lists more than 30 universities it partners with “to advance scientific research and develop the world’s next generation of scientists and leaders.”
    Monsanto collaborates with universities in a number of ways, including through “peer-reviewed research in academic journals” and by providing “graduate-degree advisors and academic mentors.”
    And DuPont’s seeds division, Pioneer, sponsors symposia and workshops on university campuses throughout the United States.

    Liked by 1 person


    Public Universities Get an Education in Private Industry
    Can academic researchers remain impartial if they are beholden to corporate money?

    In the Department of Food Science at Purdue University, partners are invited to pay $5,000 a year for influence over “current and proposed curricula,” as well as an array of other benefits, from prepublication review to access to students and “potential consultants.” The offer is so attractive that on nearly every school day (and on some weekends) in September 2016 alone, one or more industry partners-like
    ConAgra, Nestle, Pepsi, and Dow Chemical-hit the Purdue campus to host an informational meeting, ice-cream social, or interview session

    Liked by 1 person


    Public Universities Get an Education in Private Industry
    Can academic researchers remain impartial if they are beholden to corporate money?

    U.C. Davis’s Eisen is a proponent of the open-science movement, which advocates for access to all scientific research and data for anyone who wants it. The idea is that by making all research, methodologies, and results available to the public, everyone can participate in the scientific discussions affecting society and build upon each other’s work. It also makes studies easier to replicate and verify. The movement hinges on transparency-and disclosing funding is a fundamental component of that.

    “It’s not that I don’t trust people,” Eisen says. “It’s not that I want to believe the worst in them, but I can easily imagine someone who got money from two different sources-one from the [National Institutes of Health] and one from a private enterprise-for 35 years, and amazingly, they never critiqued the private enterprise.”
    That doesn’t mean that anything was untoward, Eisen says, but “what’s the harm in disclosing that?”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well R.T. this woman is just an old hose bag, and all the animals she’s put to suffering is a true shame, by the way who ordered all those wolves killed in Alaska? there is just no sense rhyme or reason for this, also twitter took all my comments on zinke dink and wouldn’t post them I was trying to put some humor into the situation, as there is just no rhyme or reason for the things that are happening in our country its all just a damned shame, glad I didn’t vote last election for president, and may not again in 2020, our Senator is the only one who cares about our eco system and the animals that dwell there??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Joe, I am remembering for myself in these discouraging times a saying from the ’60s: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” We HAVE to vote as this is one of the few things our consitution guarantees us a voice. To do otherwise is complete abdication. If the choices are pitiful — we need to get more choices on the table!

      Liked by 2 people

Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.