Northern Great Basin Experimental Range Station (Squaw Butte Federal Range Experiment Station) – Burns OR


As noted on the sign for the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range today, the research station was “established in 1936, (and) dedicated to research on the ecology and management of rangelands.” At its inception, the research facility was known as the Squaw Butte Federal Range Experiment Station. The project was a joint effort of the Grazing Service of the Department of Interior and researchers from Oregon State University to address issues of range and livestock management.

The federal Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 had brought Western public domain lands together in an effort to stabilize the livestock industry and improve range lands. This required research. The state of Oregon’s response to such needs involved setting aside funding to develop, with the Grazing Service of the US Department of Interior, a range and livestock experiment station near Burns, Oregon.

With Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor, development of the research program for range and livestock management on the 16,000 acres progressed significantly. Station administration buildings and residences were constructed by CCC enrollees along with 60 miles of fence and 30 miles of road. A report produced by Oregon State University researchers in 1980 noted, the Experiment Station can not take all the credit for the changes (in range and livestock management) that have taken place since 1935. Yet they conclude:  “The station can, however, take credit for providing information that contributed substantially to every major advance of the industry during the last 30 years. These advances and resulting economic gains came through the use of information obtained from controlled experimentation.” The foundation for that experimentation occurred during the New Deal.

Source notes

"CCC to Hold Open House at Squaw Butte," Burns Times-Herald. April 2, 1937. Harvey County Library Collection, Burns OR.

"Northern Great Basin Experimental Range," Wikipedia entry. Website:

Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center website. Website:

"Visitors' Day Slated at Squaw Butte Station for Middle September," Sunday Oregonian. September 8, 1937.

Project originally submitted by Jim Reed on December 12, 2022.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


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