In The Blue and the Green, anthropologist Jack Stauder analyzes how large-scale political, social, and environmental processes have transformed ranching and rural life in the West. Focusing on the community of Blue, Arizona, Stauder details how the problems of overgrazing, erosion, and environmental stresses on the open range in the early twentieth century coincided with a push by the newly created US Forest Service to develop fenced grazing allotments on federal lands. Later in the twentieth century, with the enactment of the Endangered Species Act and other laws, the growing power of urban-based environmental groups resulted in the reduction of federal grazing leases throughout the West.
The author combines historical research with oral interviews to explore the impact of these transformations on the ranchers residing in the Blue River Valley of eastern Arizona. Stauder gives voice to these ranchers, along with Forest Service personnel, environmental activists, scientists, and others involved with issues on “the Blue,” shedding light on how the ranchers’ rural way of life has changed dramatically over the course of the past century. This is a fascinating case study of the effects of increasing government regulations and the influence of outsiders on ranching communities in the American West.