|Abstract or Summary
- This thesis is a case study of the Warner Valley Stock Company,
a large eastern Oregon Stock Ranch, which utilizes over
680,000 acres of government grazing land. The purpose is to examine
the background growth, and forces affecting the ranch. The
relationship of man to land can be understood by presenting an organized
view of the resources available and how he has utilized them.
The ranch is located in South Warner Valley, 35 miles east of
Lakeview, Oregon. The valley, a graben 4400 to 4500 feet above sea
level, is surrounded by a higher, rolling plateau with elevations
ranging from 5000 to 7000 feet. The high desert rangeland has a
sparse sagebrush-bunch grass vegetation. Warner Valley is an interior
drainage basin which accumulates water for irrigation on valley
fields. The natural vegetation of the valley floor consists of tules,
willows, and native grasses which supply hay.
Early settlers arrived in the late 1860's and by the late 1870's a
a number of people settled and an estimated 7000 to 8000 head of cattle
were present, grazing on the range in the summer and wintering
in the valley.
The present ranch lands are owned largely as a result of land
granted by Oregon through Swamp Land Laws. A controversy raged
between homesteading settlers and the company for years, but was
finally settled in favor of the company.
Immediately after buying the company in 1936, William Kittridge
began reclamation by constructing dikes and canals to control the water.
Cultivating and irrigating fields to grow grain was also initiated.
This reclamation program continues, with the most highly developed
land now producing four tons of alfalfa annually per acre.
Grazing rights on over 680,000 acres of government grazing
lands are leased by the Company and support cattle five to seven
months of the year while hay and grain crops are grown on the ranch.
Grazing is controlled by the BLM through issuance of permits. Increasing
competition by man for other uses of the rangeland such as
wildlife refuges and recreation are a source of concern for the rancher.
BLM is developing the range with multiple use concept in mind to
achieve the maximum use possible. More intensive management of
the range is increasing the rangecost to the rancher.
This is a large concern with annual operating expenses of over one million dollars, a cattle inventory of approximately 15,000 head
(including calves) and a feed mill-feed lot installation which assists
in raising the animals from calves to finished market animals. The
principle market is California, with transportation being a costly
The ranch as it now exists is the result of many forces. The
physical elements place restrictions on the land, the most important
being aridity, which does not allow diversification of agricultural production.
At present cattle grazing is the most efficient land use. The
large meat eating public assures a continued demand, although market
requirements may deviate.