The Guy Idaho Ranchers Love to Hate

“If we weren’t getting to them, they’d brush us off like a fly. After all, we’re just a little organization with 14 or 15 people, but they act like what we do is the end of the world.”

Jon Marvel sees two ways to get cows and sheep to stop grazing on public lands: Politics and litigation. He chooses the latter.

Dennis Higman does a profile on Jon for NewWest.

Fortunate for all of us who care about western public lands and wildlife, the degree to which ranchers and their politician lap-dogs whine about WWP is in direct proportion to the degree at which the organization is bringing much needed change and restoration to the western public landscape.

The Guy Idaho Ranchers Love to HateNewWest.net

There are two topics you don’t want to bring up with most Idaho ranchers: wolves and Jon Marvel, the white-haired, 63-year-old founder and executive director of the Western Watersheds Project.

Obama: Pygmy Rabbit “not warranted” for ESA protections

Salazar Strikes Again, Denying Meaningful Protection for Imperiled Tiny Bunny of the Sagebrush Sea

Pygmy rabbit

The declining condition of the Sagebrush Sea has been highlighted on a couple of occasions over the past couple of weeks.  In recent Washington state news we learned that jackrabbits in sagebrush habitats are diminishingPygmy rabbits were rejected ESA protections by the Obama administration last week, and earlier last year Dr. Steven Herman remorsefully described his account of the extinction of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit:

Science is seldom followed in these endangered species “interventions”.  Politics trumps science -and conservation.

We need to remember the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit as an example of a form lost in part to the the insanity of Public Grazing.

The Sagebrush Sea is Dying

Significant threats to sagebrush habitat across the western landscape continue to threaten and diminish a variety of sagebrush obligate species.

Sagebrush habitat is among the most imperiled ecosystems in North America and the rate at which our unique western wildlife and fish communities are declining is truly alarming.

Attempting to bring the most relief in the least amount of time, environmentalists continue to push for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for a number of umbrella species endemic to sagebrush habitats, including the grand-master of the Sagebrush Sea: the Greater Sage grouse.

Prioritizing these “umbrella” species is important, because when successfully listed, the protections secured these species will blanket entire ecosystems positively affecting the diversity of fish, wildlife, and environmental values which share the explicitly protected individuals’ habitat.  It’s like hitting a plethora of birds with one stone (bad analogy).

Ken Cole (age 11) holds pygmy rabbit

Pygmy Rabbits’ Race to Recovery

So it is with the charismatic, imperiled pygmy rabbit, North America’s tinniest bunny, and the only arboreal rabbit (climbs sagebrush) on Earth !

In 2003, a coalition of conservation groups petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list pygmy rabbits under the ESA.

In early 2008, the USFWS, responding to legal pressure from conservation groups, finally issued a positive 90-day finding for pygmy rabbits, initiating a more thorough assessment of whether to protect the bunny under the ESA.

The agency dragged its feet again, prompting Western Watersheds Project et al to provide a legal reminder, again, of its court ordered obligation to the bunny …

Unfortunately, just earlier this week Pygmy rabbits were denied Endangered Species Act protections by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Laura Zuckerman, Reuters

“We find there has been some loss and degradation of pygmy rabbit habitat range-wide, but not to the magnitude that constitutes a significant threat to the species,” Bob Williams, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Nevada, said in a statement.

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Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predator

“The solution to stop the livestock killings by wolves is simple: A $50,000 fine given to each livestock owner who allows wolves to kill their livestock.”

Every once in awhile you come across a Letter to the Editor that just really hits it out of the park:

Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predatorMissoulian LTE

Dust cuts water flow into upper Colorado River

Dust from livestock grazing in the southwest reduces water runoff in the Colorado River Basin by 5%

An interesting study has been released by the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies which explains that spring runoff from the Colorado Rockies has been compressed into a shorter period of time due to high levels of dust found on the mountain’s snowbanks.

“Runoff comes from the mountains in a more compressed period, which makes water management more difficult than if the water came more slowly out of the mountains.”

Evaporation and sublimation of the warmer snow itself–then transpiration from the earlier-exposed vegetation–results in water losses to the atmosphere, losses that then don’t go into runoff.

According to the study, the dust loading is five times greater than normal due to human activities such as livestock grazing, activities associated to livestock grazing such as vegetation treatments like these pictured in Nevada, and other disturbances.

After the Mower/Chopper Cave Valley, Nevada © Ken Cole

After the Mower/Chopper Cave Valley, Nevada © Ken Cole


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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

Spread of Bighorn Sheep Pneumonia Continues

Domestic sheep spread deadly disease to wild bighorn sheep

It’s been a bad year for bighorn sheep in Montana.

Spread of Bighorn Sheep Pneumonia ContinuesNew West

While we see an increasing amount of media attention that bighorns are dying of disease, unfortunately, with this article, there is a familiar omission of context regarding a likely source of disease for bighorns in general; namely, domestic sheep.

This is worth pointing out over and over again, as it has significant policy implications.

Earlier, Ken Cole put together a comprehensive illustration of a WAFWA report that summarizes bighorn outbreaks this past year.  It’s worth looking at.

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