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Historic Records Bearing on Agricultural and Grazing Ecology in Utah

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Opinions that are more or less freely stated, and sometimes uncritically, regarding the original vegetation in western United States vary widely, depending largely on the opportunity the individual has had to become acquainted with the pertinent ecological data and the historical records. Fortunately, a fairly authentic record has been preserved regarding the vegetal ecology of Utah at the time of settlement. Because the Mormon Church officially "explored" for suitable settlement sites, reports prepared and diaries written at the time discuss not only the supplies of irrigation water but also the quality of soil and the amount and kind of native forage available near the settlements, and in many cases the range forage farther away but available for grazing animals. Nearly all the first settlements of Utah were deliberately located after consideration had been given to these ecological resources. As might be expected, some misjudgments were made, but these were surprisingly few. Many of the later settlements were located without a full consideration of the need for good soil, water, and ample range forage. Some of these less carefully selected sites were in the end abandoned. Unfortunately, the records that have been preserved regarding range resources are not nearly so adequate, nor so comprehensive as to specific location, as are those regarding cultivated lands. A considerable number of technical reports of various surveys by government parties discuss at some length or comment briefly regarding range forage resources. In addition, several church documents deal with the grazing resources that were available in comparatively early days. An attempt has been made to summarize this set of facts and to indicate their importance, in order that Journal readers might benefit by the information published in historic documents, most of which are so rare that the originals are largely inaccessible.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station

Publication date: 1941-04-01

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