You’re going to pay more, but ranchers to pay less to use public lands this year

They’ve gone and done it again — dropped public land grazing fees as low as the law allows. For a buck, thirty-five a month ranchers can let a cow stomp all over the the public land trample the banks and shit in the streams. Oh, yes, and their calves get to do it for free.

For those not so favored, you will be paying more fees this year to access your land. For $80 you can get the card below that will let you into many public land areas.

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The High Country News blog has some thoughts on the new grazing fees. Buddy can you spare a cow.

The Missoula Independent has an article too. Unfair warning. Scaling back recreation on public lands, quietly. By John S. Adams

Conflicting applications for grazing leases roil Wyoming Legislature

Conflicting bids over state land leases, and whether prior lease holders should get preferential treatment at the expense of public education revenues has spilled over into the Wyoming Legislature. House Bill 318 would generally point away from conservation groups willing to pay two-to-three times as much for state land leases than the livestock producers who have long held those leases. Read the read in the Casper Star Tribune. Conflicting Leases by Brodie Farquhar.

The Western Watersheds Project has applied applied for almost 20,000 acres of expiring Wyoming State School Trust Land grazing leases, including large acreage leased to Executive Vice-President of the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, Jim Magagna. Also included in the applications was over 6,000 acres of Wyoming school trust lands in critical Bonneville Cutthroat Trout habitat in the BLM’s big Smiths Fork grazing allotment located near Cokeville, Wyoming. Other leases include ones in the south end of the Wind River Range near Farson, Wyoming and in the huge Green Mountain Common Allotment south of Jeffrey City, Wyoming.

A little background is in order.

Upon statehood most of the states got one section (a square mile) of land from the public domain for the support of the public schools. Some states like Idaho and Wyoming got 2 sections, and a few got 4 sections (Utah, New Mexico).

Today most of these lands do provide, as intended, money for the public schools. However, in almost all cases the money comes from timber cutting and mineral leases on these lands, even though the dominant use in terms of acres and environmental impact is grazing.

These state school land grazing leases are awarded on the the basis competitive bids, but generally speaking, they are passed around to good ‘ol boys and often don’t raise a dime for the public schools.

The Western Watersheds Project (once named the Idaho Watersheds Project) was organized in part to increase the amount bid on these leases by outbidding the good ‘ol boys and then not grazing the land, allowing it to recover from perhaps a hundred years of grazing abuse. So it was a win/win situation — the school kids get more and the land is rested from maltreatment.

In Idaho, the livestock politicians yelled like stuck pigs. Read once again Molly Ivins 1998 column on it. Western Watersheds got a bad name for taking on and exposing those who were abusing the state school lands and shortchanging Idaho’s school children.

Not with me, however, I joined WWP as an Idahoan who wanted better funding of the schools and also one tired of being a second or third class citizen.

Now Western Watersheds is bidding on expiring state school land leases in Wyoming, and can anyone guess how the overprivileged segment of the ranching industry is reacting?

The “End Times” have come; Bush wants funding increase for National Parks.

I know it’s hard to believe, but here it is in USA Today. President pushes boost in funding for national parks. $100 million a year would help restore services. By Richard Wolf

Idaho’s governor: Build dams

Idaho’s new governor has another brand new idea fresh out of the 1940s — build more dams in Idaho to impound water.

It might sound great if you haven’t followed the issue for a generation.

Yes, there are dam sites left in Idaho, but there is not enough flow in the rivers to fill them.

Secondly he argues that rapid urban growth requires these dams, but most of Idaho’s extraordinary per capita consumption of water is from agriculture, not cities. There is plenty of existing storage and water in Idaho to accommodate future urban use.

Third, he wants Idahoans to pay for the new dams, forgetting the Idahoans have almost never paid for the many dams in the state, especially the irrigation dams. They were paid for by the taxpayers of the Unites States or private companies. They stopped building public dams in Idaho after the Teton Dam collapsed in 1976 as it was being filled for the first time, drowning 14 people and doing a billion dollars worth of damage. Most Idahoans and American taxpayers were fed up with with paying for these boondoggles.

Story in the Magic Valley Times-News. Governor Otter with a new idea from the distant past: build storage dams in Idaho.

Posted in Dams. 7 Comments »

BLM pulls gas lease offerings after WY citizen protests. Says offering was mistake.

The BLM has pulled 8 of ten lease offerings on a key wildlife migration route in Sublette County, WY after protests by local citizens and many groups. The BLM is trying to claim the areas they planned to offer were really a mistake. Yeh right!

Story. BLM pulls Sublette lease parcels after glitch. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune.

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on BLM pulls gas lease offerings after WY citizen protests. Says offering was mistake.