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Cancelled: 2020 The Future of Ranching in the West

UPDATE: In accordance with university policy and public health guidelines, this event has been cancelled as a precaution to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
Image courtesy of Gabriel Herz, University of Nevada, Reno Department of Art and Art/Photography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


March 19, 2020 - 1:30pm to 5:00pm
Genoa Lakes Golf Club, 1 Genoa Lakes Drive Genoa, Nevada 89411
The Rural West Conference is an annual, interdisciplinary gathering that brings together academics, practitioners and policymakers to share knowledge and ideas about the rural West. Our hope for the multi-day workshop is that it catalyzes scholarship about and solutions to this region’s pressing problems. Each spring, the Lane Center travels to a different location in the West, growing the network of individuals and organizations invested in identifying solutions to challenges of rural policy, health and environment.
The 8th Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference is planned for March 19 in Nevada's Carson Valley. We expect the gathering to be an engaging and interdisciplinary dialogue on the critical issues facing rural communities in the American West. Under the banner of The Future of Ranching in the West, this year’s conference will focus on a variety of topics, including the shifting ownership of ranches and rural gentrification; the environmental impacts and ecological benefits of ranching; and other agenda items. During the course of the conference in the Carson Valley, panelists and speakers will address the myriad meanings and implications of these topics.

Panels and Discussion:

Fire, fire: Rangeland in Nevada

  • With so much focus on forest fires, few outside the rural West have paid any attention to the most quickly burning type of land in the country: rangeland. The “sagebrush sea,” as it’s called, stretches from Wyoming to California and is quickly going up in smoke. About 120 million acres of land have burned and over 350 animal species have been displaced. There are many state and regionalized coordination efforts focused on prevention and protection issues, but not enough is being done. Rangeland fires account for 56 percent of burned land in the United States, but received less than 20% of funding for restoration and relief. This panel will discuss research and new science on preventing these fires by managing ongoing threats such as cheatgrass. It will also analyze the partnerships and funding needed to tackle one of the American West’s largest threats.

Wild Horses: An Assessment of their Future on the Rangeland

  • The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program is complicated and contentious. Although wild horses and burros are majestic and quintessential creatures to the great American West, their populations continue to grow and so their numbers outsize the ecosystem carrying capacities in many multi-use Herd Management Areas, threatening other wildlife populations and embroiling interest groups around the country in heated debate. Despite the conflict and polarization on Capitol Hill, previously divergent parties from Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, California, Idaho, and Colorado, worked on a draft proposal to understand how already-available technologies could be utilized towards a non-lethal, sustainable program. These parties maintain that a $50 million dollar increase to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program would allow the scaling up of fertility control alongside gather-removals; better adoption partnerships; and an initial increase in long-term pasturing. Some animal rights groups have not acquiesced and are raising continued opposition. The final appropriations language signed in 2019 allocated an additional $20 million dollars to the program to pursue a strategy similar to the draft proposal given by these groups. This panel will explore the impacts of passing a budget as proposed, a reduced budget, or no budget at all. It will also make assessments of the impact of horses on endangered species, animal starvation, rangeland quality, agriculture and hunting communities, and interest group relationships.

Exploring the Carson Valley

We would like to recommend a number of activities for panelists and attendees while in the Carson Valley  area. 



Phone: (650) 721-1588