Managing Conflicts Over Western Rangelands

It is clear that today’s federal grazing institutions promote far too much raiding and not enough trading. As the Bundy standoff demonstrated, conflicts over land use have the potential to erupt into full-scale range wars. The raid-or-trade model provides a clear lesson for policymakers in the United States and elsewhere: If property rights are well-defined, enforced, and transferable, then disputes among competing users are more likely to get resolved peacefully, cooperatively, and in a mutually beneficial manner. Finding ways to strengthen property rights, even in the context of existing federal rangeland policy, would go a long way to encouraging more trading and less raiding on public rangelands.

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