Southwick Research

An Autobiographical Collection of Observations and Investigations

by J. Wanless Southwick, Ph.D.




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Western Ranching's Effect of Wildlife

I liked Cliff Gardner as soon as I met him. He was the kind of person who didn't just spout off opinions, but he methodically gathered documentation to support whatever he told people. He was a life-long Nevada Rancher whose experience convinced him that environmentalists didn't understand western ranching, wildlife, or rangeland. My own experience made me agree with him.

In 1992 he engaged me to prepare an "electronic pamphlet" to help set the record straight. He arranged for the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, which shared many of Cliff's environmental viewpoints, to sponsor and distribute the electronic pamphlet.

First Screen of the Electronic Pamphlet  

My challenge was to encapsulate the concepts into an interactive computer program with photographs that would fit on a single 5.25" floppy disk. Floppy disks were our pre-Internet method of distributing electronic programs. I made the whole electronic pamphlet (including about 250 interactive screens and 30 low-resolution photographs) fit into less than 1.2 MB. I did it using the DOS based Quest Authoring Language.

The electronic pamphlet starts with you meeting with a county commissioner and then going on a trip to Nevada to meet Cliff Gardner. Cliff takes you on a tour to show you several western ranching sites. He demonstrates that wildlife species prefer rancher-maintained grazing land over the original western-desert environment. Wildlife need the same things livestock need, including water and actively growing vegetation. Cliff shows that western lands were historically unproductive prior to settlement by farmers and ranchers.  He documents that wildlife were scarce then compared to their abundance now. He explains the benefit of rancher-created ecotones. The electronic pamphlet lets the user develop and express his/her opinions and then write letters expressing those opinions to various governmental offices.

I thought the electronic pamphlet would become "viral," with readers sharing copies with acquaintances, thus propagating itself throughout the realm of those for whom ranching and wildlife was an important issue. Unfortunately, that idea was ahead of its time. I know the electronic pamphlet found its way into governmental bureaucracies, but it didn't seem to reach ranchers or the general public very well. In 1992, computer literacy was developing slowly .

I couldn't find a way to make that old electronic pamphlet run interactively on this website. My web hosting service said they have "restricted access to cmd.exe on [their] servers due to security reasons on shared hosting environment." But you can download the zipped electronic pamphlet, unzip it, and run it on your Windows computer. Within the zipped file, is a file called "README.TXT." It has simple instructions for running the DOS program from the Windows XP START/RUN command line, using a simple "Start" command. Enjoy!

With newer versions of Windows, you may get an error message saying, it "cannot start or run due to incompatibility with 64-bit versions of Windows" (because this 1992 electronic pamphlet it is a 16-bit application). So, consider installing the free DOSBox application that can run old MS-DOS software on modern computers. I tried it and it worked (except for the electronic pamphlet's print options).

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