Of the 5 kinds of lands in the world (i.e., Rangeland, Forest, Cropland, Urban/Industrial, & Barren), rangelands comprise about 85% of Wyoming’s 97,809 sq. mi. Because rangelands include all lands dominated by herbaceous or shrubby native vegetation, they are found on every continent and in every country.
Wyoming’s vast and varied rangelands include the shortgrass plains and midgrass prairie in the east, rocky foothills covered with mountain mahogany (good mule deer habitat); many kinds of sagebrush on the Laramie Plains, in the Powder River Basin, Red Desert, toe slopes and valleys of mountain ranges; lush, rolling Idaho fescue parks in the Big Horn Mountains; open ponderosa pine forest-range in the Black Hills; high plateau grasslands in Yellowstone National Park; riparian areas in every part of the state; and many more too numerous to name.
Our rangelands provide many resources, such as forage for livestock and wildlife, and most of the watershed for the water used in Wyoming plus that which flows into Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota. Oil, gas, coal, and other minerals are mined from rangelands, and mined land reclamation is an important expertise required of rangeland managers. In addition to these resources, space and aesthetics are becoming increasingly more important and in greater demand by visitors from crowded cities and wooded areas where “you can’t see anything because of all the trees”.
All these resources generate many uses, such as grazing, recreation, hay production, mining, and home sites. Excessive demands by any one rangeland user can create conflict and jeopardize the sustained productivity of fragile range sites. Consequently, members of the Wyoming Section, Society for Range Management are committed to providing scientifically sound and practical management of Wyoming’s rangeland resources and uses.