Overgrazing OA Essay

Submitted By Heather_H
Words: 1449
Pages: 6

Catherine was an average girl. She got good grades, had plenty of friends, and a caring family. When she was little, her parents would often take her to the park to play. And when she got too old for the playground there, she would still visit it every morning to walk her dog. Everything changed though, when Catherine and her family decided to move. Just shortly after they had left, a company bought the land and decided to turn it into a ranch. When Catherine and her family finally moved back, she was devastated. Instead of finding the beautiful park in her memories, she found only a barren stretch of land.
What happened to the park was not caused by any chemicals, but by a process called overgrazing. This is when animals feed on vegetation and cause serious damage to our ecosystem (Hogan). By allowing animals to extensively graze on a plot of land, we prevent the surrounding environment from maintaining a healthy life (Rayburn). Little by little, the biodiversity will decrease, and the topsoil will ebb away, until only a scarce amount is left (Hogan). Over time, the soil will just degrade and degrade until it becomes useless (Hogan). Eventually, a day will come when our world as we know it will come to an end. Just like how the park Catherine grew up with was destroyed by ranchers.
Overgrazing is not a recent problem, but rather a bug that has existed in our society for a long time. In 1978, 32 years ago, the United States government had already noticed the problem and issued the Public Rangelands Improvement Act (Muir). This charged the Bureau of Land Management with duties to improve their management and to decrease the amount of grazing on damaged land (Muir). We and the government had both trusted them to prevent overgrazing from causing further damage to the ecosystem (Muir). But did they fulfill their duties? Did this Act help the environment at all? Sadly, no. This is apparent in the assessment done by the Bureau of Land Management itself in 1998 (Muir). They showed that only 33 percent of the Bureau’s public rangelands were in “satisfactory" condition, while 50 percent was in “poor” condition (Muir). This means that 270 million acres of land, the equivalent of one-eighth of the United States is potentially being damaged just through overgrazing (Muir). From this, we can easily see that the problem of overgrazing still exists, and that it has been eluding our government for a long time now. In order to finally rid our country of this bug, the government needs new solutions to prevent overgrazing.
To start off with, we first have to understand what causes overgrazing. One of the main factors is excessive animal density. Today, overgrazing can be seen at “certain North American temperate grasslands, where top-level predator populations have lost their robustness [and]… generally declined to the point of being ineffective regulators of ungulates [or 4 legged hoofed animals] over large areas” (qtd. in Hogan). This shows that as the population of predator decline, the chances of overgrazing happening increases (Hogan). By hunting and killing large numbers of predators as we are doing now, we create the problem of excessive animal density (Hogan). This will then lead to further damage to our ecosystem, and the death of many animals (Hogan).
Desertification is another major problem caused by overgrazing (Hogan). Whereas we can prevent the problem of excessive animal density by simply implementing new laws, it is nearly impossible for us to instantly fix all the damage we have already dealt to nature. According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, "[In our society today], overgrazing can be considered the major cause of desertification in arid drylands, tropical grasslands and savannas, worldwide" (Encyclopedia of Earth). During overgrazing, vegetation is removed at an unsustainable rate, thus causing a reduced amount of surface water infiltration (Hogan). With less water in the soil, the ground surface and near surface…