MacArthur Fellows Program

William W. McDonald

Cattle Rancher and Conservationist | Class of 1998

Cattle Rancher and Conservationist
Douglas, Arizona
46 at time of award
Area of Focus
Published July 1, 1998

About Bill's Work

Bill McDonald is a fifth-generation, Arizona cattle rancher who is leading efforts to create ecologically responsible cooperation among government regulatory agencies, conservationists, scientists, and commercial ranchers in the West.

McDonald led the formation of the Malpai Borderlands Group, a collection of some forty-five ranchers whose holdings, along with adjacent public properties, account for about one million acres of contiguous territory in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Under his guidance, Malpai has developed innovative, voluntary land management programs and has funded efforts to protect endangered species on the land. Group members have pooled their resources to support experimental, land management programs, such as replanting native grasses. McDonald holds that proper stewardship of land obligates private owners to maintain the biodiversity of their property, protecting these resources for future generations and providing direct economic benefits and additional security to the landowner.


McDonald has been a supervisor on the Whitewater Draw Natural Resources Conservation District Board for over two decades. He served as president (1988-90) of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers Association, and was appointed to serve as a member of the advisory committee for the National Federal Livestock Grazing Fee Incentive Program (1994).

McDonald received a B.A. (1975) from Arizona State University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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