How Big Were Their Footprints?

Lugo Era


The Lugo family ranch, Rancho San Bernardino, would appear at first to have little effect on the environment. After all, how much damage can 10,000 head of cattle do? The answer: PLENTY!



Large population of cattle congregating near watering holes and creeks could add a lot of droppings

Local water sources would be polluted.

Spanish wild oats introduced. Cattle ate everything in sight.

Native animals probably had a harder time finding their usual food supply.

Built permanent buildings

Because their homes were mostly of adobe, the Lugo's buildings didn't last long. There are no traces today. The County Courthouse is built over the site of the main Lugo ranchhouse.

Brought many cattle to the valley

Anytime you bring in animals from another place, you change the balance of nature. Native animals have to compete for food.

Taught local Indians to be ranchers

After learning about European ways, the local natives never went back to hunting and gathering.

The Bottom Line:

Like others who would follow them, the Lugos tended to think in terms of growing one crop. In this case it was cattle. The cattle were butchered and their hides shipped to Boston or other ports, to be made into shoe leather, and other things. This kind of farming, called a "monoculture" is especially dangerous to the environment. It is also easily harmed. In one heavy snowstorm, the Lugos lost most of their cattle, because the cows couldn't get to food or water.