The primary goal of the project is to conduct a historical and ethnographic study of ranching and agriculture in Capitol Reef National Park to help park staff, visitors, researchers, and managers better understand the historical and cultural importance and current status of these agrarian activities
in the park.
Ranching has been designated as a use of the park, and currently there remains one lease of approximately 15,000 acres of active grazing in Capitol Reef.
Ranching families who hold those this lease or trail their livestock through the park have deep cultural and emotional ties to the park¿s landscape and generations of knowledge about both the cultural and ecological history of Capitol Reef.
Relations between ranchers and federal land managers, including NPS, have often been characterized by suspicion and mistrust.
This project will document more than 130 years of ranching history at Capitol Reef, inventory the historic structures and cultural resources associated with ranching and agriculture there, and, most importantly, record the knowledge, values, perspectives, past and present land uses, and aspirations of the ranching families themselves in order to give them voice and document their concerns.
A better understanding of ranchers¿ values, perspectives, and concerns should assist park staff in making management decisions that honor ranchers¿ traditional knowledge, manifest greater sensitivity to their deep cultural ties to Capitol Reef, and reflect a better understanding of their economic and operational needs, as well as help the NPS mission of resource stewardship.