The University of Arizona

Viewpoint: the importance of range science to federal grazing policy.

B. Czech


The value of science to policy design is questioned by many, including political scientists. Critics view scientific expertise as subject to monopolization by an elite technocracy; a process with antidemocratic consequences. Science has been influential in the development of federal grazing policy by creating the Clementsian paradigm, by affecting the policy agenda, and by defining terms of discussion. Science has been less influential in the implementation of grazing policy. In contrast with many policy issues, science is important to sound grazing policy, because western rangelands are isolated from the thought process of the general public by geographic, demographic, and temporal features. In America, good policy is that which solves important problems and fosters democracy. Democratic forums in which grazing policies are born are enlightened by the disciplined competency of science. More than any other form of knowing, science represents concentrated, devoted study of a topic. Range science should provide the basis of public information and opinion that is converted, via the political process, into federal grazing policy.


decision making;issues and policy;democracy;range management;grazing

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