Taylor Grazing Act
It belonged to everyone—and to no one. It was called free land, and both sheepmen and cattle ranchers wanted a piece of it. In this high, dry plateau country where water and grass are scant, cutthroat competition for free range led to disastrous land practices.
Using their herds as evidence of range ownership, ranchers allowed their animals to graze uncontrolled on public grasslands.
Overgrazing brought erosion and the destruction of open pastures.
Finally, in 1934 Congress stepped in with the Taylor Grazing Act.
Named for Colorado's great Western Slope congressman. Edward T. Taylor, the act created grazing districts regulated by the federal government.
Thus ended the ruinous competition among stockmen and the likely destruction of some 170,000,000 acres of public domain.
Farrington R. Carpenter,
In 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Farrington R. Carpenter the first director of the Division of Grazing, a federal agency created by the Taylor Grazing Act. True to his maverick ways, Carpenter bluntly stated the act's driving purpose. He said it was "for the proper use of lands. Not for the people, not for the livestock, but for the lands." Educated at Princeton and Harvard Law School, Carpenter established
a ranch about ten miles east of here in 1926. As district attorney for Routt, Moffat, and Grand counties—an area larger than Massachusetts—he prosecuted cattle rustlers and kidnappers, and when armed sheepmen lined up against cattlemen, he negotiated a cease-fire.
But ranching always came first. Today, the Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch stands as a living testament to this maverick rancher's love of land, cattle, and the American West.