||30 IS UTAH SAHARA BOUND? Plant Resource and the Future Historically, the century now closing may be divided into two economic eras and this centennial year may well mark the dawn of a third. The first was a period of exploration and colonization. It began with the arrival of the pioneers in 1847 and closed with the advent of the railroad in 1869. During this period our people were supported almost entirely by an agricultural economy in which grazing assumed an ever expanding role. However, the essential dependence on home markets prevented, except in localized areas near populated centers, the general overuse of our vast forage areas. The beginning of industrial development characterized the second economic period of the Utah territory when new and rapid means of transportation facilitated the importation of manufactured goods and the exportation of agricultural and mining products. Infant industries were born and their growth slowly replaced pioneer handicraft. The livestock business, however, had already served its period of youthful development. Under this new stimulus of foreign cash markets the grazing industry expanded suddenly. The livestock boom was on and it is doubtful if a gold rush was ever marked by more wanton and disorganized exploitation of a natural resource. The decades of 1880 to 1900 saw the sheep population of our ranges increase from 200,000 head to 3,800,000. Itinerant bands of sheep naturally encroached upon grazing lands already pre-empted by cattle growers. Bitter competition and often open warfare ensued between the cattle and sheep interests. Between 1880 and 1900 the number of range cattle in Utah actually decreased (fig. 3) because cattle growers found it more effective to fight sheep with more sheep. Complete forage utilization was found to be the most efficient means of preventing trespass by itinerant herds. The prolonged and unseasonal use of both desert and mountain ranges followed this relentless struggle for forage, and catastrophe was inevitable. By 1905 the enormously overstocked ranges plagued by soil erosion and by the drought of the late nineties rebelled against abuse and unleashed famine and floods against the despoilers. Utah, so early in her history, had seen the heyday of the grazing industry. Income from grazing abruptly declined in Utah after 1900 and except for inflationary livestock prices it would still continue to decline. Sevier County, as an example, saw a decrease in cattle of 41 percent and in sheep of 58 percent during the years 1923 to 1943. The ranges in general are still seriously overstocked. Many rural communities throughout Utah made prosperous by the livestock boom were so economically impoverished by the livestock crash that population pressures became evident early in this century. The decline of the grazing resource, coupled with a changing economy generated by expanding industry, was the principal factor responsible for the population shifts from rural to urban centers. Many believe that with the advent of the Geneva steel plant, Utah stands now on the threshold of a new era of industrial expansion. If these hopes are realized the human population of this state will assume proportions never dreamed of during the past century.