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Joy Belsky papers

Identifier: Coll 332

Scope and Contents

The collection is made up of articles published in scientific journals, newsletters, newspaper articles, government publications, manuscripts, and correspondence with Belsky's notes and comments inserted throughout as she worked. Materials she used in her talks, such as overhead projection transparencies are included.

The subject files are published articles and manuscripts on ecological topics with Belsky's notes and comments inserted, correspondence regarding, and reviews of these manuscripts and publications. Her papers and testimony to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) congressional hearings, work with the Endangered Species Recovery Act, the conservation of Siberian forests and importation of Russian logs, and environmental impact studies of Forest Service proposals and practices are some of the ecological materials. The impact of grazing on rangeland and forest was an area of concentration. Also included is Belsky's publication on her lawsuit for sex discrimination in hiring against the Bureau of Land Management and material on a campaign to include qualified women speakers at science conferences. Materials for the seminars and talks she presented are in the collection.

The ecology of range management is a significant area of concentration. Topics include weed management theory, weed invasions, study of relict communities, legislation on management, and range restoration. Belsky’s heading of “Terrible Legislation” includes the appeal filed with the Bureau of Land Management regarding the use of herbicides to control weeds and the directives and findings of the BLM.

Materials on the stellar sea lion lawsuit, marbled murrelet lawsuit, and Oregon’s list of threatened or endangered species are included in the endangered species section. Some of the more interesting of Belsky’s file folder headings for the section on the Endangered Species Act include: “ESA and Economics”, “ESA: Truth and Lies”, and “ESA Uses and Abuses”. Her work to protest the Kempthorne ESA bill is also in this section.

The sections on timber and forest health look at the ecology of and management of forests, including materials on wild and prescribed fire, grazing, salvage logging, theft, biodiversity, Oregon’s eastside forests, old growth forests, timber imports and various methods of treating imports for pest infestation, and conservation of Siberian forests.

The materials that were at hand and appear to have been in use at Belsky’s death are filed under the heading Active Reference Material. Much of this material is about the holistic management theory that cattle grazing can improve rangelands. Belsky was working on a paper refuting this theory and Allan Savory’s support of it. Also included here are materials on the Internal Columbia Basin Environmental Management Plan, her sex discrimination law suit and related publications, Belsky’s ecological publications, her work calendars, diaries, and contact lists.

E-mail correspondence for 2001 is available. Outgoing is filed chronologically and incoming is filed by correspondent’s last name.

Series VI: Video and Audio tapes, data disks.


  • 1931-2001


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Joy Belsky (May 21, 1944 - December 14, 2001) was born in Abilene, Texas. She graduated from Abilene’s Cooper High School in 1962 and entered Smith College. There she earned a B.A. in Botany in 1966. She was awarded a Masters of Forest Science, Forest Ecology from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Plant Ecology from the Botany Department of the University of Washington in 1979.

Joy Belsky was a “… range ecologist who rose to national prominence in a male-dominated field while crusading to boot cattle off public lands in the West” (*Michael Milstein of the Oregonian). She had been described as determined and fearless in her fight to force federal land agencies to face scientific questions about the impacts of livestock grazing. Belsky was also passionate about gaining a greater role for women in resource management. She sued a federal agency, published papers, and led a writing campaign in this effort and the effort to include more women speakers in federally sponsored science conferences.

Belsky worked as a Research Associate, then as a Research Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Syracuse University between 1979 and 1985. During this time, she was the principal investigator on two National Science Foundation grants studying the ecology of the Serengeti National Park. In 1986, she went to Cornell University as a Senior Research Associate with another grant from the NSF to support similar work until 1989. She had a fellowship at the Center for the Environment at Cornell from 1991-1993, and at that time, pursued studies as a co-principal investigator supported by an Alaska Science and Technology Foundation Grant. She also taught graduate courses on plant ecology.

In 1992, Belsky moved to Oregon and went to work for the Oregon Natural Resources Council. There, she reviewed the scientific and legal adequacy of federal resource management plans and developed the scientific basis for protecting natural ecosystems. *(from the RangeNet online biographical sketches). From 1997 until 2001, she worked for the Oregon Natural Desert Association providing the same service. Belsky published over 45 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters on African and North American grasslands and rangelands and was working on a paper contesting Allan Savory’s theory of holistic management when she died.

Her death from breast cancer cut short an energetic career of applying scientific research and analysis to the preservation and health of the natural world around her. Husband: Bob Amundson


10.5 linear feet (21 containers)

Language of Materials



Joy Belsky (1944-2001) was a Portland range ecologist who worked on protecting public lands in the Western United States. The collection includes articles published in scientific journals, newsletters, newspaper articles, government publications, manuscripts, speeches/talks and correspondence.


Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Weeds Series II: Endangered Species Series III: Timber Series IV: Forest Health, Fire, and Grazing Series V: Belsky's Active Reference Material Series VI: E-mail correspondence Series VII: Miscellaneous Series VIII: Media

Physical Description

20 manuscript boxes (Box 21 inside manuscript box 20)

Processing Information

Collection processed by Joyce Griffith, 2011.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Joy Belsky papers
Revise Description
Finding aid prepared by Joyce Griffith
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA