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  • A ranch is an extensive farm on which large herds of livestock are raised. In the American West, ranching is and has been the most prevalent use of land. Most of the West is directly or indirectly affected by livestock production.

    The long-term effects of ranching are open to debate. Studies show properly managed grazing can help control noxious weeds, provide a good habitat for successional species suited to the environment, and improve overall range conditions. Others believe the opposite is true, that ranching reduces biodiversity by inhibiting the density and biomass of many plants and animals, by speeding up erosion, and by reducing land options for future generations. Opponents to ranching cite the long-term danger of spreading nonnative plants and diseases.

    Because of the West's relative ...

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