The Warner Valley Stock Company ; a geographic study Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6d56zz83r

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  • 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 factor. 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.
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