4th generation Montana rancher turned against cattle-
Bozeman Earth Day speaker: Beef is bad for the planet. By Gail Schontzler. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer
Bozeman Earth Day speaker: Beef is bad for the planet. By Gail Schontzler. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer
The Boise Weekly has written another strong exposé on Idaho dairies and how the State’s regulators are utterly failing to regulate them or test their products for dangerous levels of antibiotics and other drugs.
Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?: State Responds After Idaho Dairy Cattle Test Positive in Food Safety Tests | High levels of antibiotics and other drugs found in cattle linked to dairies.
By George Printice – Boise Weekly
On February 28, 2011 Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for Idaho agreed with Western Watersheds Project and reimposed an injunction stopping livestock grazing on 17 grazing allotments covering over 450,000 acres of public land in the Jarbidge Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management in southern Idaho.
The allotments closed under this injunction contain some of the most important remaining habitat for sage grouse, California bighorn sheep, the threatened plant species slickspot peppergrass as well as native redband trout, pygmy rabbits and pronghorn antelope.
March 4 news story added. Federal judge shuts down some Jarbidge grazing allotments. By Laura Lundquist. Magic Valley Times News
Here is Western Watersheds Project’s News Release on this important victory:
Western Watersheds Project Wins A Federal Court Injunction Stopping Livestock Grazing on over 450,000 Acres of Public Land in Southern Idaho
Greater sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and Slickspot peppergrass have won a reprieve from livestock grazing which has decimated their populations and destroyed their habitat. Late yesterday, Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the federal District for Idaho held BLM, various Simplot corporate entities, and other corporate ranching operations to the terms of an earlier agreement, and again enjoined livestock grazing on 17 livestock grazing allotments in southern Idaho. Read the rest of this entry »
Story. Hunting groups clash. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian
It appears there is a difference in strategy how to get at wolves, according to the Missoulian. However, I think it is more likely the the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (actually David Allen, CEO) has actually given up the fight for wild elk and has thrown in with the worst enemies of elk — catttle and sheep associations.They are probably satisfied with elk shooting pens.
The biggest competitor of elk for food is public range cattle. They eat 90% the same thing, and year after on public grazing allotments at seasons end you find 80, 90, 95% utilization of grass and forbs by cattle and sheep, even though the government grazing plan usually says utilization will be 40, 50 or 60%. In most cases, if you want more elk (and other grazing wildlife), there has to be more food for them. Over hundreds of millions of acres, cows are stealing grass from elk.
Look below who has joined the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in supporting Senator Orrin Hatch’s anti-wolf bill — almost every livestock association out there, plus a number of right wing hunting groups.
Despite some recognition today, just one tree is being planted in Queensland for every one hundred cleared to increase livestock grazing.
Yes, it rained a lot for a long time, but cows on huge tracts of “cleared” land made the disaster.
An opportunity like this only comes along every ten years or so. I know a lot of people have been furious for years about the cattle grazing in the Bannock Range immediately west and south of Pocatello, Idaho.
Western Watersheds/Portneuf Valley Audubon Society new release on the grazing comment opportunity. Conservation groups want Mink Creek closed to cows.
Every ten years or so the Forest Service is supposed to revise its grazing allotment plans. One alternative they have to consider is no grazing. I know a lot of the folks I know here in Pocatello would say, “yes, yes” to reduced or elimination of grazing. There are a few beauty area closed, but about 1200 AUMs graze most of the area from June 1 until Oct. 10 each year (actually until the owners of the cattle bother to pick them up). That only leaves the month of May for an ungrazed experience in this key recreation area on Pocatello’s doorstep.
Here is the scoping document from the Forest Service showing the location of the allotments. PortneufAllotScoping11-22-2010
Send to your comments to Ranger Jeff Hammes, Westside Ranger District at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell why you are interested, give the information you have about the cows and what you think should be done. The formal name of document being prepared is the Lower Portneuf Grazing EA.
I took the photo below of a cow covered with houndstongue stickers on the Pocatello Grazing Allotment in the summer of 2009. The poor cow’s condition is not unusual, and of course their omnipresence keep the obnoxious weed spreading and spreading.
The last week has been filled with many stories about brucellosis and its impacts on wildlife and livestock.
First, Montana has announced plans to capture and test elk for brucellosis then place radio collars on those females that test positive to see where they go and where they give birth.
Montana plans to capture 500 elk for disease testing.
By MATTHEW BROWN – The Associated Press
This comes at the same time that cattle in Wyoming have tested positive for brucellosis which has caused the state to implement wider testing to determine if there are other cases nearby.
Cows in Park County cattle herd test positive for brucellosis exposure.
By JEFF GEARINO – Star-Tribune staff writer
Wyoming plans to test up to 3,000 cattle.
On top of all of this news come reports that domestic bison on Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch have tested positive for the disease. These are not the bison from the Yellowstone quarantine program.
Brucellosis Found in Domestic Bison Herd.
Montana Department of Livestock
Brucellosis Found In Domestic Bison Near Bozeman.
In response to the infections of brucellosis in previous years the state of Montana implemented a plan which called for increased surveillance in counties which surround Yellowstone National Park in an effort to spare the entire state of losing its brucellosis free status in the event that further infections occur.
Livestock officials set meetings on brucellosis rule
The Belgrade News
All too often, when infections are found, officials blame elk before there is any evidence to support the claim. While it may be likely that elk are behind these incidents it is important to investigate other sources in an effort to determine whether other cattle may be the source as well.
One thing has been determined with regard to past incidents, bison are not to blame.
In so many ways the issue of brucellosis in bison and elk is similar to the issue of domestic sheep diseases and bighorn except the rationalization for killing wildlife is just the opposite.
We now know that domestic sheep are responsible for disease issues in bighorn sheep and those who support the livestock industry want to simply deny it and continue to allow domestic sheep to use areas where there is an obvious conflict and to kill bighorn sheep if the “invade” the sacred domestic sheep allotments.
With bison the same argument is turned on its head so that bison are routinely hazed and slaughtered for being on the sacred landscape of the holy cow. Forget that there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that bison are a truly a risk to cattle that are not even on the landscape when bison are capable of transmitting brucellosis. The bison must be tortured and killed so that the sacred cow can eat the grass that those pesky beasts are eating.
Well, now comes evidence to show that bison another species, elk, have been the culprit in spreading brucellosis to the sacred cow. Are we now going to see a new war waged against them? Forget that brucellosis came from domestic livestock in the first place. Something must be done to protect the kings and queens of the West and the taxpayer must fork over millions upon millions of dollars for a pointless and impossible eradication exercise so that the livestock industry won’t ever have to face any adversity.
Think it won’t happen? Well, it has already begun and the livestock industry will use this new study to rationalize it and to rationalize continuation of their bison policies as well.
DNA Tests Indicate Yellowstone National Park Elk, Not Bison, Most Likely To Spread Brucellosis.
Kurt Repanshek – National Parks Traveler
Arizona is rethinking the fairness of this tradition. So are people in other states.
Arizona Rethinking Open Range Laws. By Marc Lacey. New York Times.
If you hit a black cow in the middle of the night on a public highway, you are always to blame and will have to pay for the dead cow even as you pay for your spouse, friend or child’s funeral.
The US Forest Service and the National Park Service are violating the law by not allowing bison the use of public lands. The grazing allotments provide the excuse the Montana Department of Livestock wants for their annual abuse of buffalo inside and outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Keep in mind, this issue has nothing to do with brucellosis, it is about political control of western lands and wildlife and about who gets to use the grass. It has always been about the noble landed elite showing the rest of us who is boss.
In the winter and spring of 2007-2008, the National Park Service “oversaw and carried out the slaughter of approximately 1,434 bison from (Yellowstone National Park), which represented approximately one third of the existing population of wild bison in the (Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem),” the group wrote in their complaint. “Such management, and ongoing commitment of NPS resources, severely restricts wild bison migrations, impacts their natural behaviors, maintains bison populations at artificially low numbers and negatively influences the evolutionary potential of bison as a wildlife species in the ecosystem.”
Hearing over hazing set for Tuesday.
Eve Byron – Helena Independent Record
Most people are amazed that the BLM won’t tell them who holds the almost free grazing permits they issue on the public land of the United States, but Western Watersheds and Wild Earth Guardians, represented by Advocates for the West have just won a court victory sweeping aside this contrived mystery.
Idaho federal district courts says BLM has to tell who holds grazing permits. By Rebecca Boone – Associated Press writer in the Magicvalley Times-News.
As a note, I am pleased to have been a plaintiff for the National Wildlife Federation in fighting this Bush era effort to exclude the public from having influence in grazing decisions, improperly grant property rights to livestock grazers, including water rights. Ralph Maughan
Below is the celebratory news release from WWP
|Western Watersheds Project Victorious in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals & Wins Another Federal Court Settlement Against the Forest Service on 386 Allotments in Seven Western States.
~ Jon Marvel
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Western Watersheds Project victory in Idaho District Court overturning the Bush Administration’s attempt to fundamentally change federal grazing regulations impacting hundreds of millions of acres of public lands in the West. WWP was joined in this litigation by co-plaintiffs National Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Idaho Conservation League, and famed Idaho conservationist and WWP Board member Dr. Ralph Maughan of Pocatello.
The Bush Era Grazing Regulations would have :
This significant victory at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a welcome smack-down of Bush anti-environmentalism. The win emboldens public participation and accountability, stymies the most recent livestock industry land and water grab, and maintains public ownership of the West’s vast water resources to benefit wildlife and future generations.
Thanks to our attorneys Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West, Joe Feller of Arizona State University Law School and Johanna Wald of the Natural Resources Defense Council for their excellent legal representation.
WWP would also like to acknowledge the decades-long legal work on the issue of public lands ranching by the late Tom Lustig of the National Wildlife Federation. Before his untimely death in May 2008 Tom provided invaluable legal counsel on this critical litigation.
Western Western Watersheds Project Secures a Federal District Court Ordered Settlement with the Forest Service Halting the Agency’s End-Run Around the National Environmental Policy Act in Authorizing Livestock Grazing on 386 Grazing Allotments Across the West.
WWP was joined in this litigation by Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, California Trout, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Los Padres Forest Watch, Sierra Forest Legacy, Sequoia Forestkeeper, Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Environmental Congress, Red Rock Forests, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.
This significant victory affects livestock grazing administration on National Forests in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico and California and will ensure compliance with the nation’s most important environmental statute, NEPA.
Thanks to Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West’s Boise office for her stellar legal representation in this case.
|Banner: Sawtooth National Forest, central Idaho © Lynne Stone
Public Land Ranchers’ latest attempt to steal water from the public was averted © Christopher McBride
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The writer of the Defender’s response is Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife.
Ranchers will still get money for livestock losses. Rodger Schlickeisen guest editorial in the Idaho Statesman.
I can’t help but compare Otter’s red-faced response on this relatively small amount of money to his lack of concern for all people who have been thrown out of work, especially those jobs over which he has influence, such as public school teachers.
Kinda’ puts the whole “Canadian wolves are a threat to our ‘livelihood'” argument into perspective:
30 cows die in S. Idaho after eating larkspur – Idaho Statesman via Associated Press
Perhaps they will spend millions of tax-payer’s dollars to commission a federal agency to crop-dust our public lands with herbicide such that this “threat” to the Livestock custom and culture can be eradicated.
Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, upland game birds, small nongame birds, and small mammals all eat Low larkspur. However, for reasons not entirely known, its alkaloid methyllycaconitine can cause motor paralysis in cattle (and humans) – leading to death from asphyxiation. Much effort has been spent trying to breed the vulnerability out of cattle – or at least get them to stop eating it. (Sourced Info via Idaho Native Plant Society)
Visit AGRO’s ‘Cattle Losses’ page to learn the proportion of cattle killed by predators versus the number killed by respiratory, digestive, poison, and other problems.
Western Watersheds Project wins a great legal victory for wilderness and endangered fish.
~ Jon Marvel
On July 30th, 2010 Idaho Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued an Order in Western Watersheds Project‘s favor overturning a Bureau of Land Management decision to build fencing within the Burnt Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA) on the Burnt Creek Allotment in central Idaho’s Pahsimeroi River Watershed. Read the rest of this entry »
The Oregonian is the state’s leading newspaper. They printed an editorial telling the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife not to be so quick to kill wolves just because some livestock were killed. That is fine with me, but I’d really see the additional argument that in deciding to kill from among the small number of Oregon wolves, there ought to be some attempt to kill those wolves likely to actually have done the deed, and to do so within a reasonable time. Otherwise it is just revenge.
Unlike what the paper writes of Idaho and Montana which they think of as places where experience has been gained in controlling wolves, these states now make almost no attempt to match depredations with wolves. They just go in and kill entire packs for any tiny reason.
Presumably we are not medievalists who believe in retribution against animals of a species because of the acts of one or two of the members, but all we have to do is examine some of the policies now in force to see that those in power are not far from that mindset.
Wolves in Oregon: Don’t be so quick on the trigger. Saturday, July 10, 2010, 3:35 PM. PDT
The Oregonian Editorial Board
Livestock–the elephant in the room when it comes to weeds. By George Wuerthner. New West.
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Weeds are of great harm to ungulates.
Rangeland cattle in particular are culprits. They cause bare patches of soil where weeds get started. They trample the seeds in. They move them to new places in their cow flops. I took this photo last year and posted it here. I think it makes the point.
I recently attended a gathering of activists engaged in curtailing CAFOs/Feedlots and their many crimes against our common water and air. With the success of California activists at bringing health and environmental regulation to the massive feedlots in their state, many other western states not so apt to test the water or otherwise regulate are seeing an influx of the operations. Good folk are organizing and demanding federal regulators lean in given the local ‘good ol’ boys’ unwillingness to take appropriate measures.
“Simplot’s watering system adds fecal bacteria to the Snake River,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement office in Seattle, Wash, in the release.
We wrote about this story last December: Second brucellosis case found in Idaho cattle herd. It turns out that 7 cattle tested positive in the herd that was assembled over the last two years. The origins of the animals have not been reported. The remaining animals are being kept in quarantine.
Idaho State Veterinarian Bill Barton was quick to blame elk as the source of the outbreak but there has been no source identified. Will the results of the epidemiology be released?
Rancher still quarantining herd after brucellosis.
Interagency Bison Management Plan or IBMP is the controversial bison management plan adopted in 2000 to keep brucellosis from spreading from Yellowstone Park bison to cattle outside the Park. No brucellosis has spread from bison, so a few Montana state officials say that means it has worked. However, there are almost no cattle in the area that the bison would occupy if they were allowed to leave the Park. It is a great irony that the disease itself has spread from the area’s wide ranging elk to cattle on several occasions.
The IBMP has cost over $20-million and taken a huge toll on what could be free roaming bison. It has also been a great cost by generating public resentment and conflict and violations of local people’s private property rights, civil liberties and the wild integrity of Yellowstone Park itself.
The plan should be abandoned.
Hazy results: Officials disagree on whether program to keep park’s bison from spreading brucellosis has been successful. By Eve Bryon, Helena Independent Record.
I guess we don’t have many Eastern Washington readers because there were no comments on our earlier article (yesterday) on this, but today’s news in the Seattle Times is very encouraging. This graze-the-state-wildlife-areas-for-free-to-help-me-politically program of the governor’s, really made us furious.
Experimental Washington state grazing program put on hold. By Lynda V. Mapes. Seattle Times staff reporter. “A controversial cattle-grazing program on [Washington] state wildlife lands has been put on hold for the 2010 season after a sharp rebuke by a Superior Court judge.”
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Help support the important work that Western Watersheds Project does. No Washington conservation group seemed to be able to get themselves involved with this.
The Jackson Hole News and Guide April 28 reported their analysis of the 2010 Big Game Management Summary of Wyoming Game and Fish. This article is not on-line, so I will summarize.
The annual census reported almost 103,000 elk in the 27 herds counted this winter. The state’s overall objective for these herds is about 76,000. The post-hunt count early in 2009 was about 1000 less and back in 2008 it was only 93,000 elk.
Some folks complain that elk might be numerous overall, but they are way down where I outfit, hunt, or whatever. The News reports, however, that 20 of the 27 herds were above objectives. Seven were at objective. None were below. There was incomplete data for 8 (so not included in the 27 herds).
Hunters in WY killed 22,839 elk in 2009 compared to 20,866 in 2008. The time for the average hunter to kill an elk declined in 2009 to 17.6 recreation days compared to 18.9 in 2008. Note that this calculation also includes those who hunted but were not successful.
The Jackson Hole elk herd count was 11,693, 6% above objectives. The objective is 11,000. The cow/elk calf ratio was 24, down from the 10-year average of 25. The ratio was suspected to be lower in the Teton Wilderness and southern Yellowstone Park. It was not calculated.
The Targhee herd was not surveyed. The Fall Creek herd, to the south of Jackson was 16% over objective. More tags for that herd will be issued this year.
Folks should remember that the state’s elk objectives, including local objectives are set under strong pressure from the powerful livestock industry. They usually don’t like to see “important animals” like cattle and sheep having to compete much with elk for grass.
A good overview of the buffalo issue and how they continue to be persecuted by Montana’s livestock industry and how the buffalo from the quarantine feasibility study ended up going to Ted Turner.
The Privatization of Wildlife: How Ted Turner Scored Yellowstone’s Bison Herd
AlterNet / By Joshua Frank
We have written a number of times about the recent politically inspired introduction of livestock into the Eastern Washington state wildlife areas purchased specifically to help wildlife and water quality. The livestock interests get to trample the springs and vegetation without paying a dime. It’s a pure gift, and the judge figured it out.
The judge even gave a 10-minute speech from the bench as she issued her ruling.
Ruling leaves grazing up in the air. By SCOTT SANDSBERRY. Yakima Herald Republic
Judge dumps wildlife area grazing plan: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allowing cattle on Asotin parcel in pilot program
Eric Barker – Lewiston Morning Tribune
Another article about how the custom and culture of the ranching lifestyle is under threat but this one explains what the real threat is. Not so much environmentalists or government regulation but the economy and low beef prices combined with high beef processing prices are changing the economy for them.
The small, family rancher is having a hard time competing with big agribusiness which forces them to cut corners. Their children are leaving the ranch for better paying jobs elsewhere and the ranchers themselves often have to find other work to supplement their income or forgo hiring help.
Of course there are those who still hang on and stories like these are written about them.
An American icon looking for work: the cowboy
With costs up and the demand for beef down, ranchers have cut back hiring
BY RICHARD COCKLE – THE OREGONIAN
Open range laws were made for another era. Increasingly people are seeing these laws as another giveaway of their safety and rights to that small group who want to carelessly run cattle over public and private property.
System unfair to rural residents, lawmaker says. State politics: Open range law discussed. Sierra Vista Herald.
They haven’t had much success, and today in the Idaho State Journal, columnist Michael H. O’Donnell slapped the livestock interests again. Best of all he relates it to the Johnson County War, which still reflects their basic attitude.
Gem State ‘Heaven’s Gate’. By Michael H. O’Donnell. Idaho State Journal.
Although those who only think about wolves suppose Federal Judge Molloy surely sides with conservation groups, he didn’t on this decision. Fortunately the 9th Circuit overturned his approval of a bad Forest Service grazing plan.
Don’t know how many caught the article posted on the sudden heart disease death of Obama’s director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? Anyway, the decision whether to put the sage grouse on the list has been delayed briefly. It was to come this Friday.
A year ago federal judge Lynn Winmill ordered USFWS to reevaluate their earlier denial to list this bird.
Sage grouse are “sagebrush obligate”. I learned this word a couple years ago. It means “depends on, cannot exist without” — the bird needs sagebrush absolutely for sure.
This shrubby emblem of the West isn’t doing well, at least in healthy continuous stands with the right kind of open spots, called “leks.”
Judge Winmill responded in favor of a suit by Western Watersheds project and Advocates for West because former assistant secretary of interior Julie MacDonald (under Bush) had admitted manipulating the findings of DOI scientists — changing their recommendations on a whole bunch of species. She admitted it herself. Many species have since gotten a new look by USFWS. The real biggie though is the sage grouse. That’s because it involves so much public land. Putting the bird on the list will impact off-road vehicles, grazing, oil and gas, geothermal, wind power development, electric transmission lines, and road building.
Livestock grazing is probably the biggest on-going problem. To public land grazers the colorful bird must seem like a strutting version of the devil.
Range fires fueled by cheatgrass and BLM plantings of non-native crested wheatgrass have destroyed several million ares of good habitat in the last 5 years.
Whatever outcome, this is major stuff.
Fish and Wildlife director’s death prompts week delay in sage grouse decision. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
This map gives you an idea of magnitude of land affected.
A long time ago I tended to be the kind of conservationist who grudgingly thought we had to give all kinds of perks to livestock interests so they wouldn’t sell and subdivide the West. I was becoming disillusioned with the results of helping the livestock elite, and Wuerthner’s thinking helped me see appeasing them was not necessary, but counterproductive.
Now he has updated his landmark essay: “Cows or Condos, a false choice.”
Cows or Condos: A False Choice Between Public Lands Ranching and Sprawl. By George Wuerthner in New West.
This is a victory for WWPs Arizona Office in Tucson.
(PHOENIX, AZ)—The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Western Watersheds Projects announced today settlement of a federal lawsuit involving the Sonoran Desert National Monument southwest of Phoenix, Arizona.
Western Watersheds Project filed suit in August of 2008 to challenge livestock grazing within the Monument. “Our goal was to compel BLM to manage grazing in ways that protect the National Monument and its natural resources,” says Greta Anderson, the Arizona Director of Western Watersheds.
The BLM, a federal agency, is currently drafting a land use plan for the management of the National Monument, called a Resource Management Plan. The settlement stipulates that the Plan must be completed by December 15, 2011. They will include a determination of whether or not livestock grazing is compatible with the protection of objects identified in the 2001 Presidential Proclamation that established the Monument. “The Arizona BLM is dedicated to protecting the objects of the National Monument, and this settlement affords the staff a greater opportunity to focus on field work and achieve the deadline to complete the management plans,” says Jim Kenna, the BLM Arizona state director.
Just a little help for one of my favorite organizations-
Western Watersheds Project has an event in Tucson, AZ on Thurs. Feb. 18.
Join WWP Executive Director, Jon Marvel, Arizona Director, Greta Anderson and Arizona Legal Counsel, Erik Ryberg, along with other WWP staff and members, for an evening in Tucson. Learn about our work to save the Mexican wolf and Sonoran Desert Tortoise, to end destructive livestock grazing in Arizona’s hot deserts, and more!
The event starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18. If you would like to attend, please contact Greta Anderson, email@example.com, (520) 623-1878, for details and directions. Attendance is limited, so please contact Greta right away if you are interested.
These data are from the High Country News blog, Goat. Cows vs. RATs. Jodi Peterson
Mining exec buys Sun Ranch. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
A formula to set federal grazing fees designed to partially insulate grazers of federal land from the market became law in 1976. It was supposed to go up and down according to livestock prices and costs of doing business, but it was rigged in favor of costs of doing business. In 1978, $1.35 was set as the lowest possible fee for an AUM (Animal Unit Month). Every once and a while the formula has required higher grazing fees, but never much more.
The rock bottom fee now in force has never been adjusted for inflation. So $1.35 in 1976 is now about like 50 cents. Think about this the next time you are charged $5 or $10 to merely park your vehicle at some federal recreation site such as a trailhead.
Oh, and you can’t pay the grazing fee yourself and get the livestock removed. If this was allowed, I’d write a personal check today plus a bonus and pay the grazing fees for all the livestock grazers who pay them on the local Forest Service ranger district and get the livestock removed. I’m not a rich person. I’m merely middle class, but I have enough money in my checkbook right now to pay all of their grazing fees. They are that low — that overprivileged!
Grazing fees on public lands unchanged for 2010. Seattle Times. AP
Federal Grazing Fee Announced for 258 Million Acres: Public to Subsidize Public Land Destruction, Species Endangerment. Center for Biological Diversity.
Idaho was given over 2-million acres of federal land at statehood to be managed to provide maximum income for the public schools.. These school endowment lands do make money for the schools, but almost all of it comes from timber sales in northern Idaho.
The bulk of the stand land acreage, however, has been devoted to livestock grazing. In many years it returns nothing to the schools after administrative costs. It is a nice thing for a few well placed ranchers — low grazing fees and no competition except when once in a while one outfit bids against another to graze the land when the 10-year lease expires.
Jon Marvel and the Idaho (now “Western”) Watersheds Project changed this after a long battle to allow conservation and others to bid to use the land for 10 years.
Despite outbidding the ranchers only to have their winning bids overturned by the Land Board, the Land Board finally relented after losing lawsuit after lawsuit in state court. In 2007 they formally recognized the right of conservationists to bid and win some of these lands for a decade. This not only protects and restores the usually overgrazed land; it puts more money into the public schools. Conservationists are hardly going to snap up all the state lands. They have far too little money for that.
Nevertheless, the powerful Idaho Cattle Association, which nearly rules the Idaho legislature, wants an amendment to the state constitution to allow only ranchers to use these lands. This is at a time the public schools are reeling and Idaho school children even more disadvantaged than usual.
The Magic Valley Times-News editorializes on this latest effort on behalf of welfare ranching. Editorial: Land Board got it right: State lands open to all Idahoans.
Prepare for a disinformation battle. The livestock lobby will be talking about how a little competition will push ranch families off “their” lands.
I think this is a big issue for Governor Otter because the plant grows where a lot of his pals graze.
I wish so much attention was paid to Idaho’s staggering education education system and all the unemployed people. The plant grows in the least populated county in Idaho (lowest population density).
Endangered species clashes: far from extinct. By Nate Poppino. Magic Valley Times-News writer
True grit “In a heated showdown with Western cattlemen, Idaho environmentalist Jon Marvel, AB’72, tries to outlaw livestock grazing on public lands” By Lydialyle Gibson. Photography by Dan Dry.
I review grazing allotment renewal documents and rarely, if ever, have I seen climate change discussed. When it is discussed, and only in response to comments by WWP, the agencies claim that issues related to global warming and livestock grazing are beyond the scope of the project. Unfortunately, grazing compounds the effects of global warming by creating warmer and drier landscapes which, in turn, impacts wildlife.
There is a very good case to be made that eliminating grazing from public lands would also reduce the effects of global warming by 1) reducing desertification and 2) increasing carbon sequestration in soils. As Brian Ertz has illustrated in his post from last year, public lands can be very effective carbon sinks if allowed rest from livestock grazing. This is an important idea that needs to be kept in mind when discussing public lands ranching.
Federal agencies may have to consider climate before they act
By Jim Tankersley – L.A. Times
From Western Watersheds Project v. Department of Interior:
“For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant WWP’s motion in part, finding that the decision of the Interior Board of Land Appeals is arbitrary and capricious, and remanding the matter to the BLM to (1) include the Management Guidelines as mandatory Terms and Conditions, and (2) render a new decision on the Nickel Creek FFR allotment.”
Doubtful many here have heard of the Nickel Creek allotments in the Owyhee Country of SW Idaho, but this is cause for New Year’s cheers. WWP might have a news release by the end of the day. Here is the decision. Winmill Nickel Creek decision 12-30-09
Despite controversy over the wolf hunt, about 60% of those killed were because the wolves killed livestock, usually just one or two animals. The large majority of the livestock retribution killing was done by Wildlife Services, not by the owners of the livestock. I would like to see how many of these depredation incidents were on public lands where livestock are grazed almost for free under the theory that their owners suffer loses from predators and bother from recreationists.
Wolf death tally passes 500. By Matthew Brown and John Miller. Associated Press writers.
At the end of 2008, the official wolf count in the 3 states was 1650.
The writers data on the Basin Butte Pack is wrong if you believe Lynne Stone. It is good that they acknowledge this.
We have been posting about the natural restoration of wildlife to the high plains as its human population reaches a critical point after generations of population decline. I was not aware of the Prairie Project. Of course, the down-in-heels land barons don’t like it, but they sell their holdings because they are not economically viable in this part of the country.
Ranchers wary of group’s effort to create wildlife reserve bigger than Yellowstone. By Tom Lutey. Billings Gazette.
There are a small number of livestock owners that run most of the cattle in the Stanley area, and not surprisingly it was because of losses of their cattle. All told, ten wolves were shot in the Basin Butte Pack over the course of the year. Some say there might be a couple left.
The Piva family lost 3-4 cows and maybe 1 calf. Jay Neider lost one calf. Jay Neider is closely related to Nate Helm, head of Idaho’s Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife. 2 wolves were shot in response to Neider’s cow calf.
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There is a rumor that the uproar over the killing of Basin Butte Pack has caused WS and IDF & G to back off on their plans to kill 20 or so so-called “chronic depredating wolf packs” this winter.
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Addition on 12-18
I got most of this information above from a spreadsheet Idaho Fish and Game sent. Here are the owner’s names and dates of the “wolf depredations.” The information is below and was put into a more reader friendly form by Lynne Stone.
Over the years the popular Franklin Basin area of the Cache National Forest in Bear River Range just south of the Idaho border has been increasingly pummeled by cattle and sheep. One result has been a serious decline in the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
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Dr. John Carter, Utah WWP Director writes:
The Franklin Basin Allotment covers over 20,000 acres in the Bear River Range and on the Logan River, a critical Bonneville cutthroat trout fishery in northern Utah. The Bear River Range is the most critical wildlife corridor connecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Uintas and southern Rockies.
The Bear River Range in Idaho and Utah is heavily grazed by livestock, has extremely high road density, and is overrun with dirt bikes and ATVs during the summer and snowmobiles during the winter. Cattle and sheep dominate the habitat, removing forage that would support thousands of deer or elk and many more sage grouse and other forms of wildlife. Plant communities such as aspen, sagebrush and conifer are dysfunctional, having lost much of their native flora with undesirable species remaining. Erosion is severe due to the loss of ground covering vegetation.
The Decision by the Forest Service continued unchanged the current stocking rate of 607 cattle from June until October each year and does little to restore the admittedly degraded conditions even though their own data shows the current stocking rate is 6 times what can be supported by the available forage. [boldface mine. RM] The Forest Fishery Biologist report recognizes that Bonneville cutthroat trout populations are declining and admits that the proposal will not improve their habitat.
The WWP Utah Office filed an appeal of this decision. We were joined by our partners in the Utah Environmental Congress and Wild Utah Project.
The decision by the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest Supervisor remands the decision back to the Logan Ranger District to address improving the unsatisfactory conditions that they admit exists on the allotment. We will continue to press the Forest Service to do an objective job.
This has been a perennial issue in areas surrounding the elk feedlots in Wyoming. It now seems that brucellosis has once again infected cattle in Idaho but it is too early to say where the disease originated. If brucellosis is found in another cattle herd in Idaho within a year then Idaho, once again, will lose its brucellosis free status and all cattle that are exported will have to be tested for the disease.
For years this scenario was held over the heads of people who support free roaming bison in Montana yet, when it came to pass, it turned out to be more of a minor inconvenience rather than the catastrophe the livestock industry claimed it would be.
This issue has been used rather effectively against wildlife for years but the disease is much less of a threat to human health than it was before the pasteurization of milk became the standard. The only way to contract brucellosis is by coming into direct contact with infected fetal tissue or by drinking unpasteurized milk. You cannot become infected by eating cooked beef.
Livestock disease found in eastern Idaho cow
By REBECCA BOONE (AP)
Environmentalists, outfitters file suit to end grazing in Upper Missouri River Breaks. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press
Note that earlier they filed to let Yellowstone bison use national forests outside of Yellowstone. This lawsuit was assigned to Judge Molloy. The bison lawsuit went to another Montana federal judge.
This no “family ranch” but a spin-off of Freeport-McMoRan mining.
|♦Western Watersheds Project’s Arizona Office has been granted Summary Judgment byAdministrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer in a successful appeal of a grazing permit decision issued by the Kingman Field Office, Bureau of Land Management.
♦Judge Sweitzer agreed with WWP that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act on the Big Sandy, Los Molinos, and Diamond Joe Allotments (collectively called the “Byner Complex”).
♦The successful Appeal and Motion for Summary Judgment were written by WWP’s Arizona Director Greta Anderson.
The rancher on the allotments is not a ranching family at all but a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Copper Company, the Byner Cattle Company. Freeport-McMoRan is one of the world’s largest copper and gold mining companies http://www.fcx.com/
♦The 98,736 acres of public lands in the Byner Complex encompass a range of vegetation communities, including Joshua trees and saguaros, and provide habitat for Southwestern willow flycatcher, bald eagle, yellow-billed cuckoo, Sonoran desert tortoise, and other native and imperiled wildlife.
♦The Big Sandy River passes through the Big Sandy allotment, and numerous seeps and springs and ephemeral washes occur on all of the allotments.
♦The Byner Complex of allotments has some serious rangeland health issues, and the proposed action sought to limit livestock impacts in some key areas by moving livestock to new unexploited areas through the development of new water sources. To do this, the BLM had proposed building five new wells, eleven new troughs, twelve new miles of pipeline and fifteen new miles of fence, which all could have extensive effects on the landscape and the riparian areas.
♦The BLM failed to analyze or even disclose the descriptions of the new water facilities. Administrative Law Judge Sweitzer found the BLM’s behavior to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.This legal decision remands the final grazing decision to the Kingman, Arizona field office of the BLM to redo its analysis before issuing a new grazing decision.
♦The new analysis will need to address the failures of the BLM to analyze many issues including the effects on native ecosystems of invasive species introduced by livestock, the inadequacies of setting rangeland health goals based on existing conditions, the failure to exclude grazing in sensitive riparian areas, the failure to consider effects to imperiled species, and the existing degraded condition of soils, cultural resources, and wildlife habitats.
♦WWP anticipates a more complete and detailed analysis of the Byner Complex allotments by the BLM the next time around !
— Read the Full Order
photo: USFWSYou Can Help
Southwestern willow flycatcher
|Western Watersheds Project Is A West Regional Conservation Organization Working To Protect And Restore Western Watersheds And Wildlife.
Consider joining Western Watersheds Project yourself or enrolling a friend with a gift membership. Joining is easy at WWP’s secure online membership pageBe sure to visit the WWP web site at http://www.westernwatersheds.org.
Comparison of two sites, Nov. 4, 2009, in the Mink Creek drainage south of Pocatello, Idaho-
Mink Creek is a popular recreation area on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, just south of Pocatello, Idaho. The first 3-4 miles have no livestock grazing. As the drainage gains slowly in elevation, it is grazed from about June 1 to Oct. 15 by cattle every year.
I was up there this afternoon and I took two photos (actually more than two). They certainly show the difference. The first photo is lower down in the Mink Creek drainage with no grazing for well over a decade. The second is further up, in a wetter, actually a riparian meadow next to the South Fork of Mink Creek. The second photo should have the most grass were there no grazing.
We’ve talked about how despite Hamburgers being the ‘Hummers’ of Food in Global Warming, and How Meat, Especially Beef Contributes to Global Warming, big agribusiness and the livestock industry flex their political muscle and are exempted from Meating the Truth every time (like on the Climate Bill).
Now, a bill has just passed the U.S. House of Representatives that includes an amendment from Idaho’s Mike Simpson that :
prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from being allowed to gather any data on the contribution that animal agriculture makes to climate change.
So even the EPA conducting scientific inquiry into Livestock’s contribution to Climate Change could be cut off, if the President signs the bill.
Simpson even opined: “If the EPA had existed in Biblical times, there is no question in my mind that it would have regulated gas emissions from Noah’s Ark. Poor Noah and his livestock; they could withstand a 40-day flood, but they would never have survived the EPA.”
This news right after a new report suggests that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s report (Livestock’s Long Shadow) estimate that Livestock contribute 18% of human global warming gases in the world (more than all trains, planes, and automobiles) might have significantly underestimated Livestock’s relative contribution to Climate Change :
Livestock and Climate Change – by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang
This is an essay by George Wuerther on the topic whether we have to choose cows or housing development. I put it up in reponse to Wilderness Muse’s query on another post.
Note: this was written in 2003.
Condos or Cows? Neither! (1-20-03 edit)
by © George Wuerthner
Ranching advocates present a false choice when they assert we must preserve ranching or suffer unrestricted sprawl.
Their ranching-as- land- preservation strategy is flawed in several ways.
First, livestock proponents vastly underestimate the ecological costs of livestock production. Growing cows in the West involves more than grazing grass, and the environmental impacts are countless and cumulative. Read the rest of this entry »
Healthier aspen groves support more bird species, which may in turn help the overall health of forests. One thing mentioned in the article is that the pine beetle infestations seen throughout the west could be impacted with greater diversity and larger populations of birds. This has been well documented in Yellowstone Park, but it is interesting to see it happening in other wolf range too.
Discussion about wolves often focuses on how wolves impact elk populations and behavior and how that affects hunting. Should wildlife management agencies focus solely on this or should they focus on the ecological benefits of wolves as well? One could argue that the focus on wolf management is too narrow and that people should look beyond their narrow interests and look at systems as a whole.
Here is another question to ponder. Can these benefits be realized on public lands impacted by heavy livestock grazing?
“Her findings: Wolves increase biodiversity; wolves affect elk behavior more than elk populations; and aspen growth in elk winter range is directly related to wolves.”
Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.
Most wolf occupied country, however, shows such a great impact from cattle, it is probably hard to sort out indirect effects of wolves on the vegetation. Cattle eat from half to 90% of the forage on most grazing allotments, leaving little for the elk, deer, pronghorn. As a result, the effect of changed elk behavior due to the wolves will probably be hard to document.
So far 12 wolves have been killed in Montana’s wolf hunt. It has generated a lot of controversy because most were taken in a small area just north of Yellowstone Park. Montana’s wolf hunt quota is 75.
I read in the latest Montana Wolf Weekly Report today that in contrast to the 12, twenty-three wolves in the Livermore Pack on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation were killed by Wildlife Services this year. Fifteen were killed in September alone. These wolves were said to be responsible for an unstated number of livestock losses. I read a number of their past wolf weeklies and could find no information why 23 wolves had to die for killing something.
Here is the URL of the wolf weekly that reports this http://fwp.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=40509
While the focus remains on the wolf hunt, I must emphasize again the real threat to wolves is not hunters, but Wildlife Services with its huge budget, high tech gear, and a mandate to aid and comfort the noblemen of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
The focus has been on the bighorn sheep versus domestic sheep case, but Greta Anderson of the WWP’s Arizona office won an case before an administratrive law judge today — Western Watersheds Project v. Bureau of Land Management and intervener Byner Cattle Corporation.
Here is the order. Byner Complex Order October 2009
Here it is. You have been warned.
3/4 of the quota was reached quickly, and all very near Yellowstone Park-
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks likes to think that a wolf hunt will decrease wolves killing livestock, but if all the wolves shot are wolves that have never even seen a cow, that argument isn’t valid.
Montana’s backcountry wolf hunt criticized after surprisingly quick kills. By Pete Thomas. LA Times.
Western Watersheds Project and Wild Earth Guardians are suing to make public that which should open and free to all.
Story on Fox12Idaho News. Environmental groups sue BLM for grazing info. Associated Press
Agencies to allow for bear status. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press
Judge Molloy put the Yellowstone area bears back on the threatened species list because all their food sources are jeopardized. Brian Kelly, Fish and Wildlife Service Wyoming field supervisor was quoted in the article above, “The basic message is that federal agencies need to evaluate their actions with respect to what effect they may have on grizzly bears.” [emphasis mine]
“Jim Magagna with the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association said few changes were expected for the livestock industry.” Excuse me, but I don’t think so. There are all kinds of conflict between grizzlies and livestock. Did Magagna already forget the sheep/grizzly/sheepherder incident in Tosi Creek and all the others in the upper Green River year after year?
Chris Servheen was quoted as defending the delisting decision. Well the judge didn’t think the defense was a good one, and so he ruled against Servheen and crew. What good is it to reassert it?
I just got back from 4 days of hiking, driving, checking on things in low swampy area between the Tetons and Yellowstone Park. During a good part of the year this is heavy grizzly country. In September the grizzlies have abandoned the meadows because they are dry, but they are down in the riparian areas and up on the Tetons where the food is. I found that many of the riparian areas were full of cows, with some allotments very close to Yellowstone Park. Where the cows didn’t tromp, bear scat full of berries was usually abundant.
If the grizzlies need more food, the solution is not more meetings and documents like Brian Kelley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. Animals like livestock that eat the grass, forbs, sedges, that grizzlies eat; animals that tromp out the berry patches; livestock that eat what elk and deer could eat . . . these things have to stop. Furthermore the allowed range of the grizzly has got to increase because the area reserved for the grizzly under the delisting has become less productive due to many adverse changes.
The effects of the die-off of whitebark pine, whirling disease in trout, lake trout displacing cutthroat trout, the invasion of exotic species is not going to be solved by interagency cooperation meetings.
Well . . . another negative side effect of ranching! Oh, and the location of the ranch where the fire began was kept a secret.
Story in the LA Times.
“The thing that bothers me the most is the recklessness and greed of the local ranchers, who run too many cattle back here, choking with waste the creek that runs through my property. There’s certain times of day that the cowboys like to send them turds down the river. Them fuckers piss me off. if you gotta mess up the ecology of the world in order to raise a bunch of cows, well eat somethin else. I’m not a fan of the cowboys.” – Merle Haggard, Rolling Stone, 10/1/09
As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I got a new camera today. I headed to the mountains south of Pocatello to try it out and came back with a disgusting photo (as well as some attractive landscapes).
There are many places in the West where elk could live and thrive if they had something to eat, but they don’t. Livestock is the reason.
Aside from those areas of continuous forest with little for elk to eat and the hot desert, the typical case is where cattle and sheep eat up to 90% or more of the forage. Unlike with deer which are browsers, elk are more like cattle and sheep. Elk do browse many kinds of brush and trees. They are “mixed feeders,” and need grass and forbs as about 50% of their diet.
Most of the Forest Service and BLM public lands are broken into grazing allotments for cattle and sheep. Repeated visits and data collection by Western Watersheds Project and others show that livestock often eat 90% of the grasses that elk could eat and sometimes more. In addition, this heavy grazing temporarily or permanently reduces the productivity of the grass and forbs by weakening them and allowing poorly edible and non-edible plants and shrubs to increase. This includes alien invaders like cheatgrass and medusa head. Cheatgrass changes the fire regime serving to create frequent fires eliminating other grasses and the browse, often creating a near mono-culture.
Where alien plant invasion has not been too severe, reduction or elimination of livestock can sometimes create a quick bounty for elk. Other places will take much longer to restore from abusive grazing by livestock.
But how about an example?
Twenty miles south of Pocatello, Idaho and just west of Malad City, Idaho are the Pleasantview Hills. The Pleasantview grazing allotment of about 60,000 acres has very few elk, and some deer. Every canyon bottom save two recently reclaimed from cattle is trashed, grazed down to dirt, with even the stream channels trampled out. The typical bad example below is of West Elkhorn Canyon in these hills (actually mountains).
Not much left for elk, although you can see it would be elk habitat if the canyon was lush with grass.
What could the canyon look like? Don’t take my word as mere speculation.
Read the rest of this entry »
The article below is about attempts to breed altitude resistant cattle. I’d rather see “slow elk” off the mountain meadows at 8500 feet or higher.
Cattle focus of high-altitude research in NM. By Melanie Dabovich. Associated Press Writer
The number of wildlife that die is unknown.
There are many abandoned and active phosphate mines in SE Idaho. A major battle to stop the expansion of one was recently lost by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. A new state of the art mine that is claimed will produce no selenium runoff at all is about to begin on the edge of the Blackfoot River. It’s the Blackfoot Bridge Mine. On the positive side, the mine will provide some public access to the Blackfoot River in a stretch where was closed (private property).
I have posted many stories about the selenium. Not many people read them. It seems a bit hard to stir up interest.
Idaho business news
Cattle deaths in Caribou Co. attributed to selenium poisoning.
by Mark Mendiola
Well I’m going to spend the rest of the day over in the Sublette Range where there are a lot of cattle troughs. Nowadays you have to worry about West Nile virus. Seems like these might harbor the dangerous mosquitoes that pass it. As August approaches the percentage of mosquitoes infected climbs.
The Idaho Statesman has a video about controlling mosquito larva in Ada County (Boise). Near the end of the video they show livestock water troughs as one thing they treat (to kill the larva).
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I took these in South Heglar Canyon 7-31-09 on the Sawtooth National Forest (Sublette Division).
The troughs look like ideal mosquito breeding vessels. The water in the photo is completely stagnant and sits for weeks. They should produce many waves of hatches. Photos by Ralph Maughan. Feel free to use them.
Ever since I returned to Idaho in 1971, one place I wanted to see was Burnt Creek in the high colorful foothills on the east side of the Lost River Range. It has been selected as a wilderness study area by the BLM long ago, and assumed must be at least somewhat protected.
The truth was revealed in 2007 when I went with “kt” to see if the BLM was complying with removal of an illegal turnout of cattle in the area.
The steep, low mountains composed of Challis volcanics were very pretty, but the stinking mess made by the cattle was not. Thanks to indefatigable “kt” who seems to know all the hidden pockets where livestock operators try to stash their cattle, they were removed. However, the BLM just seems determined to screw up, ignore the law, and cater to the cowpersons on the grazing allotment. So, the Western Watersheds Project has gone to court.
This article appeared in Demarcated Landscapes.
Patrick Dorinson has taken aim at one group of rabble-rousers you may be familiar with :
Range War In the West – FOXNews.com
But some environmentalist outlaws like the Western Watersheds Project had no interest in compromise and since have used and abused the legal system of this country to deny the ranchers their rights and seeks to have the U.S. Government abrogate the legal contracts that allows them to use public lands for grazing.
It’s a funny diatribe, Patrick goes to great lengths to fit in every last possible piece of mud drawing upon over a decade of uninformed cliché, contrived stereotype and baseless accusation.
Rep. Nick Rahall, Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, has a soft spot for wild horses. That’s good, it’s a national disgrace the way these animals are treated. His bill just passed the house:
WASHINGTON — Galloping to the aid of the nation’s wild horses and burros, the House voted Friday to rescue them from the possibility of a government-sponsored slaughter and give them millions more acres to roam.
A great point by Rep. Rahall:
“How in the world can a federal agency be considering the massive slaughter of animals the law says they are supposed to be protecting?”
Welcome to the West Rep. Rahall, our good ol’ boys back here got a whole portfolio of lots of different animals that fit that description.
Finally, let’s hope-
“The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that as much as 70 percent of antibiotics used in the United States is given to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle to encourage their growth or to prevent illnesses.”
The medical community has been urging this for decades. Administration Seeks to Restrict Antibiotics in Livestock. By Gardiner Harris. New York Times.
Wildlife refuge grazing deal sought. By Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune.
Cattle and wildlife have been in conflict since this eastern Montana refuge was created in the 1930s.
Update 7/9/09: Livestock Groups Denounce “Cash-For-Grass” Offer – AP
In April, Ralph contrasted the disproportionate media hysteria that takes place when a wolf kills a cow or sheep versus when any number of other natural events result in vastly more significant livestock loss. The example that he used :
cattle losses to wolves in Montana in 2008 totaled just 77 dead with a couple dozen more “probables.”
Another more recent example of the glaring disparity of livestock loss to wolves & environment versus the weather is aptly illustrated on the other end of the weather spectrum :
In southeastern Nebraska’s Hamilton County, temperatures in the 90s and high humidity contributed to the deaths of roughly 600 cattle.
That’s one county.
Non lethal management of wolves, which keeps both wolves and livestock alive is feasible.
However, most livestock operators are not like Mike Stevens (see in story) because the U.S. government will kill the wolves for free for you and it looks like Idaho is about to get a million dollar slush fund to compensate operators for animals that were or might have been killed by wolves — a pretty strong incentive to conduct livestock business as usual.
. . . and In Wyoming, if a wolf kills your lamb or cow calf, steer, etc. you get compensated seven times its value! That is one royal payoff.
Hope I’m wrong, but I doubt this will get approval if it means bison will be able to migrate outside Yellowstone Park because brucellosis is not the real issue. It’s the symbolism of who has the upper hand on the public’s land.
Tentative deal would replace brucellosis rules. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.
In this 15-minute audio presentation, Mike Hudak explains how ranchers use politicians to intimidate land managers from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management into providing rancher-friendly livestock management that is often detrimental to wildlife. Hudak cites passages from his book Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching that illuminate the topic.
The Oregon Natural Desert Association’s press release :
PORTLAND, ORE. Jun 16, 2009
Fish advocates applauded a federal judge’s decision yesterday to protect native steelhead trout in the John Day River basin. The court order temporarily halts cattle grazing within important native trout streams in eastern Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. This latest round of the decade-long litigation targets, as the court put it, “repeated failures” by the Forest Service to address grazing impacts to fish habitat. The steelhead, an iconic Pacific Northwest native trout, is listed under the Endangered Species Act as a “threatened” species in danger of extinction.
Grazing has badly damaged stream and riparian habitats along more than 230 miles of streams, according to evidence gathered by ONDA and the Forest Service. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Friday WWP won a reversal of a previous court decision that would have held that Presidents have the authority to designate – but not direct management of – national monuments.
Preservation and the President: A Positive Development in the Sonoran Desert – Ti Hays, PreservationNation
Last Friday, in a positive development, a federal district court in Arizona reversed a previous decision that held that President Clinton had exceeded his authority by including management directives in the proclamation for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.
The case began when an environmental group — the Western Watersheds Project — filed a lawsuit claiming that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had taken too long to prepare a resource management plan and grazing suitability analysis for the Sonoran Desert. President Clinton created the 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.
WWP sought to enforce very explicit conservation directives that then President Clinton had included in designating the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The judge’s previous interpretation of law could have rendered many national monument designations largely impotent from a conservation perspective. Fortunately, the judge thought twice and reversed that decision.
Many folk don’t realize the impact to native fisheries habitat that livestock grazing can and does have. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other land and wildlife management agencies work diligently to avoid acknowledging livestock’s impact to listed fish species such as Bull Trout, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and Sockeye salmon even when their own biologists and other scientists officially describe the deleterious effect.
It’s real – fish depend on stream-side vegetation for shade, filtering sediment, and as habitat for insects that fish eat. Livestock grazing removes that vegetation and tramples stream-banks polluting spawning gravels and redds (fish nests) with sediment that suffocates fish eggs. Grazing widens stream-channels increasing water temperature beyond tolerable levels and reduces the number of pool habitat fish need in streams. A single livestock trampling event can wipe out entire redds (fish nests) killing thousands of protected fish eggs and baby fish.
Fish need water, water use to supply stock tanks on public land and diversions that irrigate private pasture those cattle use on the off-season robs fish of the water-flow they need to survive and thrive.
I was recently interviewed by a local (Challis, Idaho) paper in response to Western Watersheds Project’s series of letters notifying government agencies of our intent to sue across central Idaho to ensure public land livestock management doesn’t unlawfully impact Bull Trout, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and Sockeye salmon. The report was honest to the issue at hand – wildlife, a rarity for this state’s media – so I thought I’d post it :
Commissioners work with feds to head off grazing lawsuits. Todd Adams – Challis Messenger
It’s time to do something about the egregious mismanagement of these important and valued Idaho fisheries : Read the rest of this entry »
Like a broken record, year after year – Yellowstone Park officials, Gallatin National Forest officials, and Montana Department of Livestock officials – all contribute to the inhumane hazing and killing of America’s last genetically wild bison, all to enable livestock ranchers – on your federal public land – to perpetuate the myth of brucellosis and practice the alchemy of churning our environmental heritage into their private pastures of “feed”. And year after year we hear the same narrative — ‘we have to haze the bison to make way for livestock’ says the government official, ‘but there aren’t any livestock, there’s been no transmission of disease, and your plan promised to share our public land with bison’ says the bison advocate :
Officials defend hazing of bison into park – Billings Gazette:
“We work to provide a month between the time the bison are on the land and the cows are expected to graze,” Nash said.
And much to the dismay of an outraged public, little changes. Livestock remains the ‘given’ – and hazing & harassing bison, as if they were livestock themselves, fulfills the cultural pathology of otherwise pencil-pushing bureaucrats’ innate desire to play cowboy …
Update May 13: The Salt Lake Tribune publishes an important Editorial on the recent news: Saving sage grouse :
A funny-looking bird that fluffs its feathers to dance an elaborate mating rite just might be able to accomplish what well-funded environmental groups have been struggling to do for decades: bring about regional protection of vast swaths of Western lands.[…]
[…]In protecting the sage grouse, we protect ourselves and the scenic wonders we treasure from the headlong rush to extract more fossil fuels, to pollute our air, and to mar our most fragile landscapes with excessive ATV traffic.
The Guardian is running Todd Dvorak’s piece on WWP’s recent successful argument in federal court to keep its West-wide comprehensive litigation in one courtroom :
Judge rejects splitting up suit over Western bird – Guardian vi AP
The New York Times ran a clip of the piece as well .
This ambitious case is a big deal and promises to be a headache for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose promise to clean up Interior is being tested by the suit in a manner that moves beyond photo-ops and talking-points.
Will Salazar do the right thing for Western public landscapes and wildlife for real ?
Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat. By Jane E. Brody. New York Times.
Wildearth Guardians has used satellite images and public land records to show the massive damage grazing of sheep and cattle does to the soil, water, forage, and wildlife of our public lands, including the spread of non-native invasive weeds.
Study: Grazing threatens wildlife habitat in West by Scott Sonner. Associated Press
Calf losses said to be in the thousands with reports still coming in.
For comparison, cattle losses to wolves in Montana in 2008 totaled just 77 dead with a couple dozen more “probables.”
I bring this up because I participated in a forum about wolves last night at Idaho State University. Several panel participants and folks in the audience tried to convince us that that 96 cattle lost in in Idaho in 2008 was some kind of big deal. We kept saying “no,” the big deal was weather, disease, poison plants, rustling. etc.
Story: Ranchers count up losses to weather. Snow in Montana’s southeast hit during calving, lambing. By Lorna Thackeray. Of The Gazette Staff
April 25. Update: As I predicted, this story didn’t last. Do a web search in news, it is already hard to find the story.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and how these “win/win” solutions could become a more generalized tool across western public lands to resolve often contentious resource conflicts.
Ranchers now have a way out – High Country News, Writers on the Range
Grazing-permit retirement is a voluntary, non-regulatory, market-based solution to grazing problems. Congress last legislated this approach in 1998, when it provided for permit retirement in Arches National Park in Utah. With the omnibus bill, Congress has now authorized ranchers to retire many more grazing allotments on much larger expanses of public land.
Group seeks halt to phosphate mine expansion in SE Idaho. By Gene Johnson. AP legal affairs writer
A lawyer for a group of environmentalists, landowners and outdoor enthusiasts asked a federal appeals court April 7 to at least temporarily block the expansion of a phosphate mine in southeastern Idaho…
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Note that on April 10, there was a big legal victory in the 9th Circuit court for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and conservationists fighting this mine. I haven’t seen any media on it yet. Ralph Maughan
Dan Brister of Buffalo Field Campaign was featured on Montana’s Public Radio March 27, 2009 with this audio essay
Check out this graphic. http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/web/trans0309walkthisway.html
Springs and seeps are unique habitats that occur where subterranean water emerges from an aquifer. In the semi-arid and arid west, these unique sources of water are particularly important ‘oasis’ habitats for wildlife, especially during drought and heat. Their relatively consistent temperatures and chemistry provides for “hotspots” of biological diversity – many of the more fragile plants and wildlife found in these habitats require very specific conditions and will not persist with the greater water temperature, chemistry, and flow fluctuations that occur downstream. Generally in the west, from a distance you may identify springs and seeps by the presence of an aspen clone or other green, lush vegetative expressions on the slopes of an otherwise tan, dry hillside. Up close you’ll find a microclimate of mosses and unique plant-life. If you’re lucky, you may happen-upon a wet-spot blanketed by butterflies attracted to its mineral-waters and gathering energy in the sun.
This is important news for management of public lands in sage-steppe country.
A federal judge has directed the Bureau of Land Management to rethink the way it manages grazing across thousands of acres of southern Idaho, especially the impact livestock have on sage grouse and other threatened species.
Following the intense Murphy Complex Fire that swept through southern Idaho a couple summers back, wiping out 76 sage grouse leks, intense political pressure to turn the cows back out quick largely eclipsed consideration for sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and other wildlife displaced onto the remaining habitat spared the blaze. To give an idea of the regard for habitat in this part of the country, Ralph Maughan took photos of cattle grazing post-burn – Bad practice when one hopes to restore the landscape.
Given the critical importance of the remaining habitat in Jarbidge country, conservationists quickly filed suit to ensure wildlife wouldn’t take the short-end of the stick given BLM’s plan to fold and continue “grazing-as-usual” on over 625,000 acres following the fire.
When fire (or any catastrophic event) wipes out huge swaths of wildlife habitat, how should that affect management of wildlife values versus livestock on those remaining landscapes so important to remaining wildlife ?
Don Simon Art: Unnaturalism. “Images of an evolving world” by artist Don Simon
This is an interesting perspective on the human affect on wildlife and wilderness. (Audio/Visual).
Producers in 7 Montana border counties would need to test, vaccinate. By Tom Lutey. Billings Gazette.
Those who write for this blog don’t think, “beef, it’s what for dinner.” If you care about the future of humankind, at least it shouldn’t be.
This from the Scientific American.
This is an interesting development in the DOI agenda under Secretary Salazar with this being his first public comment on his plans for a national preservation program. The questions begin with concerns about whom the actual beneficiaries would be? And just how would this program be implemented by anti-federal regulation interior western extractive interest promoting state legislative bodies? Another concern would be just what the definition of a “working farm” is with regard to such a program and would it really be considered “change”?
Salazar to take preservation nationwide – Interior secretary to use Colorado land-conservation program as model
by Joe Hanel – Herald Denver Bureau
GNF Supervisor Mary Erickson’s morbid sense of humor claims renewal of the Department of Livestock’s permit for the Horse Butte bison trap is a “tool of tolerance.” It certainly fits with Governor Schweitzer’s interpretation of “more tolerance” for wild bison; all we’ve seen from his Administration is a canned hunt and the largest-scale slaughter since the 1800s.
The private/public Horse Butte peninsula is 100% cattle-free; residents welcome buffalo and oppose the trap and DOL’s presence. At the dawn of the Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) crafted by IBMP partners, the trap is a serious contradiction. But, the brucellosis argument is full of contradictions.
This is apparently, though a good place to find the bleached bones of cattle, a common visual theme of cartoons of people lost in the desert.
Inane official, public actions scar Sonoran monument. By Linda Valdez. The Arizona Republic
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Update. Link to WWP Arizona Office. Great photo of cattle in Sonoran Desert National Monument 😦
Although BFC is on my blogroll (down in the right column of the blog), I haven’t posted one of their “updates from the field” lately. Here is a slightly abridged version. Ralph Maughan
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Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
January 15, 2009
In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Montana Delegation, Schweitzer, to Ride in Obmama Parade
* Order Your Buffalo Valentines Today!
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
A study was released this week that determines what we’ve known all along: the risk of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to cattle is extremely remote. The study, “Wildlife-Livestock Conflict: the Risk of Pathogen Transmission from Bison to Cattle Outside Yellowstone National Park” was conducted by A. Marm Kilpatrick, Colin M. Gillin, and Peter Daszak, and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. In summary, the study states, “… We have shown that the quantitative risk of transmission of [brucellosis] …is highly variable in space, time and frequency. We believe that this variability offers great potential for focused adaptive management efforts that will reduce the costs of brucellosis management, reduce the need for hazing of bison, and maintain very low risk for the cattle industry of Montana.” You can learn more about the study’s findings under “Buffalo in the News” below.
Nevertheless, livestock interests are running rampant with power in Montana. This has been an incredible week of war against wildlife, even though the field remains quiet with no wild buffalo migrating out of Yellowstone National Park.
For those of us not connected with the cattle industry the results of this paper coming out in the Journal of Applied Ecology are hardly surprising, but for the cattle bureaucrats it should be a real wake up call.
Study: Chance of brucellosis transmission posed by roaming bison is low. By Matthew Brown. AP. Casper Star Tribune.