- Use of federal lands for commercial and recreational activities
contributes significantly to the economic stability of many rural
areas. Recent increases in demand for recreational use have created
conflicts between uses and among users. Some are questioning the
use of public land for private gain. The seemingly low grazing fees
paid by western ranchers have been an additional catalytic agent.
One significant question that arises is, how important are the present
uses of federal lands to the total economy of an area? More
specifically, what is the contribution to the economy of a given area
from the use of federal lands as a source of livestock forage? To
help answer this question, the economy of Grant County, Oregon was
studied in detail.
To determine the extent of federal grazing in eastern Oregon,
data was obtained from a sample of livestock permittees with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Information
concerning number of cattle grazed, Animal Unit Months of grazing,
number of brood cows owned, number of privately-owned acres, and
production of forage from private land was obtained.
All business activity in Grant County was classified into one of
fourteen sectors. Systematic random sampling and personal interviews
were utilized to obtain information from the commercial businesses,
and mailed questionnaires were sent to the agricultural
producers. The data obtained was used to construct a transactions
matrix. A matrix of input-output, or technical, coefficients was
Ranches dependent upon federal grazing had a total output (gross
sales) in 1964 of nearly $4 million, of which $3 million came from
outside the County through exports. The ranches in this sector spent
$0.48 per $1.00 of gross sales for the purchase of inputs from Grant
County's businesses (exclusive of purchases of labor from the
County's households.) Ranchers with federal grazing spent $1,792,533
in Grant County in 1964 for business inputs only, not including labor
hired nor personal expenditures. Since these ranchers use both federal
and private lands, it is difficult to precisely allocate how much
of this quantity is attributable to each source.
The lumber industry spent only $0.24 per $1.00 of output on the
purchase of inputs in Grant County (not including $0.30 wages per $1.00 of output) but because its gross output was large, this brought
$3,304,347 to the County's businesses.
A recent study sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management
and the Forest Service showed that a 20 percent reduction in federal
grazing use would cause an 11 percent reduction in gross ranch income.
Using this information, a similar reduction in grazing use in
Grant County would cause the total output of the Dependent Ranches
sector to decline by $399,578. When this lower output level was run
through the model, the output of the remaining 13 sectors was shown
to decline by $244,161. An additional, indirect loss to the Dependent
Ranches sector brought the total business reduction of all 14 sectors
An income multiplier was computed to show the impact on County
household incomes from this 20 percent reduction. The Dependent
Ranches sector had an income multiplier of 1.801680. If the Dependent
Ranches sector had its output reduced by the 11 percent, it
would cause a loss of household incomes in that sector of $39,563.
When this was multiplied by the income multiplier, the total income
loss to all households in Grant County from the 20 percent reduction
of federal grazing was $71,280.
It was not possible to investigate the extent to which these losses
might be offset. If several key recreation areas were closed to
livestock and the increased recreational use was significant,
increased expenditures by recreationists could reduce the net loss.
However, because of different sectoral distribution of the direct
effects, the indirect effects, and thus the total effect, would most
likely be different.