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Ranching, Endangered Species, and Urbanization in the Southwest: Species of Capital (La Frontera: Environmental History of the Borderlands) Paperback – February 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: La Frontera: Environmental History of the Borderlands
  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press; annotated edition edition (February 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816525528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816525522
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"As the reader will discover, strange bedfellows sometimes come to live together in the real world of human interaction with landscape and wildlife. This is a refreshing book, full of insight—a genuinely new kind of ranch history that every student of the subject needs to read." —Southwest Book Views"An outstanding contribution to the history of the environment and the American West . . . This book ought to serve a vital role in continuing the scholarly and contemporary debates surrounding suburbanization, nature, and the role of the state. It forces us to shed simplistic perceptions of environmental problems and embrace history as a guide to our current circumstances." —Journal of American History"Some people will discount Sayre's analysis and conclusions, but his book is a substantive challenge to environmentalist orthodoxy. It is not intended to refute the goals of environmentalism but to help claify both the aims and the methods." —Southwestern American Literature"This is a superb book: scholarly, well researched and reasoned, largely framed in ecological terms; it is rich in detail and the phenomena of everyday life. . . . Such an undertaking has considerable practical and theoretical potential." —Journal of Arizona History

From the Inside Flap

Ranching is as much a part of the West as its wide-open spaces. The mystique of rugged individualism has sustained this activity well past the frontier era and has influenced how we view—and value—those open lands. Nathan Sayre now takes a close look at how the ranching ideal has come into play in the conversion of a large tract of Arizona rangeland from private ranch to National Wildlife Refuge. He tells how the Buenos Aires Ranch, a working operation for a hundred years, became not only a rallying point for multiple agendas in the "rangeland conflict" after its conversion to a wildlife refuge but also an expression of the larger shift from agricultural to urban economies in the Southwest since World War II. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought the Buenos Aires Ranch in 1985, removed all livestock, and attempted to restore the land to its "original" grassland in order to protect an endangered species, the masked bobwhite quail. Sayre examines the history of the ranch and the bobwhite together, exploring the interplay of social, economic, and ecological issues to show how ranchers and their cattle altered the land—for better or worse—during a century of ranching and how the masked bobwhite became a symbol for environmentalists who believe that the removal of cattle benefits rangelands and wildlife. Sayre evaluates both sides of the Buenos Aires controversy—from ranching's impact on the environment to environmentalism's sometimes misguided efforts at restoration—to address the complex and contradictory roles of ranching, endangered species conservation, and urbanization in the social and environmental transformation of the West. He focuses on three dimensions of the Buenos Aires story: the land and its inhabitants, both human and animal; the role of government agencies in shaping range and wildlife management; and the various species of capital—economic, symbolic, and bureaucratic—that have structured the activities of ranchers, environmentalists, and government officials. The creation of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge has been a symbolic victory for environmentalists, but it comes at the cost of implicitly legitimizing the ongoing fragmentation and suburbanization of Arizona's still-wild rangelands. Sayre reveals how the polarized politics of "the rangeland conflict" have bound the Fish and Wildlife Service to a narrow, ineffectual management strategy on the Buenos Aires, with greater attention paid to increasing tourism from birdwatchers than to the complex challenge of restoring the masked bobwhite and its habitat. His findings show that the urban boom of the late twentieth century echoed the cattle boom of a century before—capitalizing on land rather than grass, humans rather than cattle—in a book that will serve as a model for restoration efforts in any environment. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric P. Perramond on April 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sayre's book on ranching and endangered species uses a compact study area, the Altar Valley of Southern Arizona, to analyze various forms of human and 'natural capital.' The book is deep in the area's history, ecology and current resource management practices, and yet also steeped in theoretical arguments that make perfect sense given his overall argument. The Bobwhite Quail plays a central role in producing a landscape of "Nature" (big "N") that becomes the pivot-point for contemporary rural politics between ranchers, environmentalists, and federal agency workers. Really good research, and still accessible; kudos to the author.
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Ranching, Endangered Species, and Urbanization in the Southwest: Species of Capital (La Frontera: Environmental History of the Borderlands)
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