A sad fact is that public land livestock grazing is so pervasive out west (around 300 million acres of public land) that most people have become accustomed to the image of livestock degraded landscapes and have little idea what might be.
Recently, WWP received a report dated July 18, 2007 from the Idaho Department of Lands which included the photographs below in the right column and the two final pictures documenting the restoration taking place on the 1.2 mile state land along Lake Creek.
A bit of the backstory :
In September 1993 Jon Marvel, Linn Kincannon and Lynne Stone took a hike up Lake Creek, on the East Fork Salmon River Watershed. They found fish and wildlife habitat on this 1.2 mile stretch of state land that had been brutalized by livestock for many years. The dire condition of this landscape and stream prompted Marvel to look into the Idaho state Land Board to learn as much as he could about how state lands were managed, the leasing process, everything. “I found out these things are competitive if more than one bidder applies,” Marvel said. “I bid on the lease.” It took years of back and forth in the courts, including then Idaho Watersheds Project being awarded three consecutive victories at the Idaho Supreme Court on the same day, before the lease would be held by conservationists and the 1.2 miles along the state land on Lake Creek would be rested from livestock grazing. Photos on the left were taken of the same 1.2 mile stretch by members of WWP (when it was IWP) in 1994 on July 24, 1994, those on the right were provided by the Idaho Department of Lands dated July 18, 2007 :
Grazed: Lake Creek East Fork Salmon River Watershed Idaho state department of land
(July 24, 1994) Photos : Idaho Watersheds Project (now WWP) click to enlarge
Recovering: Lake Creek East Fork Salmon River Watershed Idaho state department of land
(July 18, 2007) Photos : Idaho Department of Lands click to enlarge
Addition from Ralph Maughan.
Some people might say, “Well, what does the restored area look like in autumn, in the fall.” Maybe it looks like all the other brown, overgrazed places of which we have seen photos?” I wondered, so last October I went to the Western Watersheds Project lease and took photos. One large photo is on the link below. Many more could be posted.
You won’t find many places in central Idaho in a riparian zone that time of year that look like this. Of course it is ungrazed, at least by cattle or sheep. Large photo of Lake Creek Canyon on the lease. Oct. 5, 2008. Photo copyright © Ralph Maughan.
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Brian Ertz is Media Director for Western Watersheds Project