Obama Administration Refuses to Reform Public-lands Grazing Fee

Fee is only $1.35 to graze a calf cow pair for a month.

Obama Administration Refuses to Reform Public-lands Grazing Fee
For immediate release – January 18, 2011

Contacts: Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project, 520.623.1878
Mark Salvo, WildEarth Guardians, 503.757.4221
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, 928.310.6713
Brent Fenty, Oregon Natural Desert Association, 541.330.2638
Ronni Egan, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, 970.385.9577

Tucson, Ariz. – After a lengthy delay, five conservation organizations finally received an answer today from the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture concerning the artificially low fee federal agencies charge for livestock grazing on public lands. Claiming higher priorities, both agencies declined to address the outdated grazing fee formula. The government’s response was prompted by a lawsuit filed by Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Conservation organizations submitted a petition in 2005, asking the government to address the grazing fee formula and adjust the fee in order to cover the costs of the federal grazing program, which costs taxpayers at least $115 million dollars annually according to a Government Accountability Office report. Conservationists contend that Americans lose even more in compromised wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic views, and native vegetation.

“Today’s long-awaited answer was a huge disappointment,” said Greta Anderson, Arizona Director for Western Watersheds Project. “Year after year, we watch as the government gives a sweetheart deal to public lands ranchers at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. We had hoped the Obama Administration would have done better, but it’s business-as-usual for the western livestock industry.”

“Subsidizing the livestock industry at the cost of species, ecosystems, and taxpayers is plainly bad public land policy,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity, “Today’s choice to continue that policy is both a disappointment and a blight on the Obama administration’s environmental record.” Read the rest of this entry »

Conservation groups want Forest Service land near Pocatello closed to livestock grazing

Now, your opportunity to comment on the Pocatello, Midnight, and Michaud grazing allotments-
Comments are due Jan. 4, 2011-

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:   comments-intermtn-caribou-targhee-westside@fs.fed.us.  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.

Houndstongue infested cow. Pocatello Grazing Allotment. Photo by Ralph Maughan. Public domain

Montana wilderness, jobs bill added to Senate appropriations bill

Senator Tester’s massive forest bill has been added to Senate omnibus appropriations bill-

Every year the U.S. Congress’ procedure becomes more and more unglued. The reason for this is mostly partisan gridlock. So few freestanding bills (called regular order) are allowed by the opposition to pass or fail on a straight vote that extraordinary measures are now being taken if there is to be any action at all, even on necessary bills.

This year is ending up worse than ever.  This is no comment on the merits of Senators Tester’s wilderness/jobs bill.  We have discussed that earlier. That bill, however, largely thought to be dead, has been added to the Senate’s omnibus appropriations bill, and could become law with no direct vote ever having been taken on it.

The way the process is emerging is that almost all legislation for a year will come up in one giant bill that contains every other bill that has somehow found its way through the new, arcane process. The only votes that can be said to count will mostly be those on the giant measure.  What is in the giant bill will be for everyone to discover after the Congress is over, not before the legislation is passed!

Montana wilderness, jobs bill added to Senate appropriations bill. By Rob Chaney Missoulian.

Hearing on bison hazing set for Tuesday

Grazing and slaughter threaten the viability of bison and other sensitive species-

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

Supervisors of Lolo, Clearwater national forests oppose big rigs on Highway 12

This is a significant move of new support against the use of the highway to move giant tar sands modules-

Supervisors of Lolo, Clearwater national forests oppose big rigs on Highway 12. AP in the Missoulian.

Highway 12 winds along between these two national forests.

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Other recent news about the Highway 12 controversy-

Proposed industrial route through scenic Idaho raises alarm.
“Residents say a two-lane highway along the Clearwater River is no place for oversize oil-field equipment headed for Canada.”
September 15, 2010. By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

Rancher loses grazing appeal

USFS takes away grazing lease in Nevada’s Santa Rosa Mountains.

The Columbus method of grazing, where cattle are put out for months on end and then “discovered” at the end of the grazing season, gets a spank.

You can read the decision from April here.

Rancher loses grazing appeal.
Written by Dee Holzel – Silver Pinyon Journal

Forest Service decision to delay the oil giants on U.S. 12 (Lochsa, Lolo)?

Decision on powerline burial could hold up the movement of the 207 super-sized oil modules-

Lolo National Forest rescinds power line burial decision for big rig route. By Kim Briggeman. Missoulian