Perhaps, but where is the public lands grazing reform?

These are the establishment groups’ views.

Environmentalists draft bold roadmap for Obama. By Dina Cappliello. AP in the Huffington Post.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

28 Responses to Environmentalists [said to] draft bold roadmap for Obama

  1. avatar Tilly says:

    Hello? Where’s the beef, Big Green? It is irresponsible to leave out such a critical issue.

  2. avatar kt says:

    Isn’t it astonishing? None of the Big Green groups want to grapple with public lands ranching – the worthless and profligately wasteful industry that is killing the West’s water and wildlife.

    PLUS breaking the stranglehold that the infinitesimal number of pompous self-important ranchers (infinitesimal in relation to the population of any western state, let alone the country) have on politics and policies of despoilation is THE KEY to real change in the West — a shift in thinking from continued Manifest Destiny/”renewable” resources to Oh My God We Better Take Care of What We Have Left”.

  3. avatar vickif says:

    A lot more could have been said. But I am trying to see what has been said for the achievemnt is really is-HUGE. We finally have a voice that is being heard, and being unified. Keeping in mind, this is what they recommend be done in the first 100 days in office.
    We should be glad (and I am) that we finally have an opportunity to be heard in politics. This plan may not mention everything, but it mentions a lot.
    Maybe it is the starting block to a race, not the finish line? This is not going to be easy, and dealing with primary issues (like how to change the economy in a greener way without pissing off so many manufacturers) is what needs to be done from an economic AND environmental stand point.

    Most people that I have talked to don’t see public land grazing as an economic issue. If you look at it from that stand point, it may be trumped by priority, given our current economy, by energy sources and manufacturing-they are in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

    I am all for ending public land grazing, but I doubt we are going to see a huge leap in progress when it would mean displacing more workers right now(like it or not, ranchers are employees too). I think we will see some progress during this administration, but I think it will come slowly on the grazing front, prehaps in the form of increase of price or decrease of access to grazing….I don’t think it will end entirely for a very long time.

    I hope I am wrong, but like most Americans, I am not too high on the idea of anymore people being unemployed, displaced, or destitude. That sentiment includes oil field workers and ranchers. Until we have a plan in place to assist these people in a worthy transition, I doubt it will happen.

    It is different with manufacturers, their companies’ mismanagement and greed led to the demise of their jobs. . In an industry that the world saw as needing to look forward, they just stayed stagnent, unmoving, and produced an over abundance of vehicles that many see as out dated. No one was the enemy of the manufacturing industry, with ranchers-we are, and many see us that way.We need to be careful not to villanize ourselves.

    With ranchers, people see a very different set of circumstances. They see a symbol of a fading past-when America was the land of milk and honey-a past that gave life to the idea of prosperity based on hard work. That is an ideal people perceive as the American Dream. They identify with it, and it is based in romance and history. Getting that perception to change is going to take extreme compassion and well planned avenues for change. If we make ourselves the perceived killers of the dream, we will be our own worst enemies.

    There needs to be a strategy to end grazing, based in a “New American Dream”, and it has to hold a place for everyone. Until you can get people to believe you are not unreasonable(and I know we are not), you will not convince them this is in their best interests. That will take a lot of publicity.

    We need to realize that we walk a fine line. I see posts here all too often that ask “what is acceptable? Is there anything good enough for greenies?” We have to be willing to find some middle ground, and to progress we will have to conceed to some things we may not find ideal.

    We want renewable, sustainable, greener energy…we are going to have to accept we may not like every place they put wind turbines, if we want cleaner public lands, people are going to have to stop griping about paying fees to use them…no grazing-be prepared to subsidize ranchers’ bank accounts when you close them down. We cannot continue this all or nothing approach and expect it to fly. Just as we expect those who are not doing the green deeds to change and compromise, we have to be willing to do the same.

    Please, nobody needs to say the old “the environment is the bigger priority, we have to save it at any cost”. No matter how much you or I believe the environment needs saved, there will always be people who need to be employed, fed, sheltered, have light, etc. Because of that, you have got to see that those people feel they are the bigger priority. Those people will be effected by every choice made on behalf of the environment.

    This proposal is a good start, with ideas on accomodating economic and environmental needs. It addresses ways to deal with those who will be effected by the changes (to some degree). But it is only a suggestion to a start, not a solution to every problem. I like it that we have made this much progress.

    KT,
    You are right to see a shift, but in some ways that shift became inevitable because the environment was allowed to be too desimated. The desperation in “Oh my god we better take care of what we have left” is exactly what is promoting change….changing to renewable doesn’t demand enough attention from the public in large….if this desperation kick starts change, okay. We just all have to keep pushing toward the bigger picture, and once momentum has started, our fight will get a lot more support.

    I am with you, and will keep writing and talking, until the cows go home.

  4. avatar Buffaloed says:

    There is not much middle ground on this issue and to ignore it right out of the gate when it has the biggest negative impact on 250,000,000 acres of public land is stupid. If you start from a position of compromise you will get nowhere with these people as they start from of position of extreme. I am not the extremist in this argument. The rancher who lobbies the government to kill wildlife varying from bighorn sheep, buffalo, wolves, grizzly bears, sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, desert tortoise, and everything else under the sun so that he can live out some mythical lifestyle at the expense of U.S. taxpayer is the extremist here and to not acknowledge that or even attempt to change that is stupid too.

    It seems to me that these big national enviro groups are doing more damage by living in the mythical world with these ranchers. I’m sorry but it’s plain B.S. that an issue like this is ignored.

  5. The basic problem with the rural Western states, and even the more urban ones like Utah and Nevada, is that the political power structure is pre-democratic. Amazingly, it is much like feudalism where a landed aristocracy rules despite their lack of economic relevance.

    Most environmental groups don’t recognize that these states will not change until this power structure and associated mythology are broken up.

  6. avatar Salle says:

    “…no grazing-be prepared to subsidize ranchers’ bank accounts when you close them down.”

    VickieF,

    I admire your long, thought out comment, it has a lot of validity and I hope that a growing number of folks can get behind that rationale. Jobs are needed and folks need to recognize that none of this will be painless for anyone.

    BUT

    We already subsidize them far too much and to our detriment.

    Many jobs are already gone leaving the need for new jobs to be created. The US needs to restructure its way of earning a living, I would suggest that this economic downturn is probably a blessing in disguise in that it literally forces us to abandon costly occupations with something more in tune with our need to adjust to the new reality regarding power and food production methods. (There’s a dark side and a light side to everything. I feel that the darkness challenges us to seek the light side.)

    There really isn’t that large a worker/income base in ranching that is significant when it comes to the grand scheme of things. Much is automated and field work is largely done by those who are from Latin America because most of us want to aspire to “something more personally redeeming,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I have always understood that growing, preparing and consuming food and sustenance are separate but sacred acts that promote health and well-being on all levels.) Jobs will be lost in every industry, therefore many of us will require “re-grooving”.

    If ranching subsidies go away, there will be a lot more $ for education and re-grooving. A report that came out from the GAO, yesterday, announced that MOST of the $ amount doled out in the farm bill went to wealthy folks who aren’t even in farming,/ranching! (I’m waiting for the info to become available online so I can offer it here; I’ve been looking since I heard it on NPR yesterday afternoon.)

    Check this out:

    http://www.askquestions.org/details.php?id=127&gclid=CKyQv5iOk5cCFRsRagodaBVP_g

    (Where you can find live links within the following paragraphs that provide real-time info concerning the farm subsidies.)

    “US farm subsidies have been a contentious issue in recent trade negotiations between developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group publishes information about the issue, including a database of farm subsidies. According to their Farm Subsidy Database, the top 10 recipients got 72% of the $143.5 billion US taxpayers paid to farmers over the past ten years. And just seven states took in half of that money, because only those states produce the corn, wheat, rice and cotton crops that account for 78% of the subsidies. Meanwhile, two-thirds of America’s farmers and ranchers receive no direct government support. [Except for the grazing allotments that ARE subsidies.]

    A recent issue of the progressive economics magazine Dollars and Sense ran a background article about the impact of US farm subsidies on Mexican farmers. You can read the article, “Fields of Free Trade” online. The same November/December 2003 issue also offered two opposing views about farm subsidies in an article called, ‘Fair Trade and Farm Subsidies: How Big a Deal?'”

    “The conservative Heritage Foundation also criticizes US farm subsidies in an article called, Still at the Federal Trough: Farm Subsidies for the Rich and Famous” After detailing exactly how the subsidies favor large farms, the article says, ‘far from serving as a safety net for poor farmers, farm subsidies comprise America’s largest corporate welfare program.'”

    And then there’s this informative database that’s clear and easy to use:

    http://farm.ewg.org/farm/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=total&page=conc

    It’s clear that the majority of the subsidies go to the wealthiest farmcorps and others not even involved in agriculture at all. It’s true in Idaho and elsewhere. (I think Ralph has a link to a better web site that shows this.)

    I think the hard-liners need to relax a little and take powder for a couple more weeks. Good grief, Obama isn’t even in office and the screaming is already in full swing based on speculations of what he has in mind. They seem to expect him to spill his guts before he even says “I do…” for heaven’s sake.

    I think it’s a product of the “instant gratification generation”. I’m all for dropping the subsidies which, in my view, have been responsible for propping up a falsity in our economy at the expense of many around the globe.

    And then there’s this large portion of food for thought:

    A Nobel Peace laureate, Bernard Lown, who is also the cardiologist that developed the defribulator (heart re-starting paddles) claims that the cost of our armaments could be better spent on peaceful endeavors;

    He took issue with how much money is going toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while needs are left unfunded at home. “It costs $500,000 to fire one Tomahawk missile in Afghanistan,” Lown said, “…the same amount it costs to build 20 schools there.’ “Which, he asked the audience of about 200, paves the way to peace?”

    You can listen to two hours of interview with him on this topic at:

    http://www.humanmedia.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=291

    Perhaps we can adjust our thinking away from fear-based economics to something more like the ideas he promotes, even regarding our need for a greener economy and a better educated society. Fear and ignorance are the fuel that the powerful burn to retain unwarranted power in any social structure.

  7. avatar Salle says:

    Ralph, I just posted a lengthy opinion and it seems to be captured in limbo somewhere for moderation…

  8. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    the first step you take in policy formulation is “problem definition” . for too long the political environment has fostered conditions that have punished those who spoke up against, who ‘defined’ a ‘problem’ as Livestock. The ag lobby has been particularly powerful – and a subset of that, public lands ranchers – have held disproportionate power even within that greater lobby.

    What makes a national group a national group ?? $$$, big staffs and political influence. these are organizational structures that are self-serving and resource-seeking just like any other bureaucracy. The effect of the large Livestock lobby’s political influence has engendered conditions that have captured many groups – either politically at the national and local level as Ralph describes, or via the resource of the large foundations, even culturally via the mythology of Western heritage as that of the cowboy. Larger groups have learned to avoid the public land grazing issue. Their sources of revenue are no longer membership, so they don’t need to be responsive to the members on the group who see the degraded conditions, their sources of political influence sure as hell wouldn’t touch the issue, and so over time many of those who gave a damn about the issue was squeezed out or left of their own accord – seeking meaningful tread.

    These conditions have fostered something else that we should be thankful for – those grassroots groups that have been truth-telling the whole time. these groups and activists are agile, immediately responsive to membership that is aware of conditions on the ground, and they are stronger for having survived the storm telling the truth. they’ve learned how to be effective while keeping the standard more about the condition of the landscape than the condition of the budget or political contact.

    the truth is – public lands ranching is the largest source of species imperilment being responsible for 22% of threatened/endangered species (nearly logging and mining combined).

    public lands ranching is the largest contributor of non-point source water pollution in the Western U.S.

    public lands ranching is the largest source of the spread of weeds and landscape desertification. etc. etc. etc.

    there is not a more pervasively destructive land-use in the country. but activists won’t be able to count on establishment groups to tell that truth to congress, the president, even their own ignored memberships. we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

  9. avatar Layton says:

    “If you start from a position of compromise you will get nowhere with these people as they start from of position of extreme”

    B’d,

    How come you can’t see that statement working for BOTH directions? Some of the people here make Hannity, Limbaugh, and Plum Creek logging look like the most “middle of the road” folks in the world.

  10. avatar Debra K says:

    Pragmatism looks like the way Obama’s team is approaching reform. One way to avoid appearing to attack ranchers personally is to focus on the absurd economics of public lands livestock production.

    For example, this article from the Center for Progressive Reform, “Squandering Public Resources,” http://www.progressivereform.org/articles/Squandering_Public_Resources.pdf, cites a GAO report that in 2004, the governement spent $144 million to administer the public lands grazing program, which brought in just $21 million in receipts. The GAO determined in that report that the BLM should have charged $7.64 an AUM and the Forest Service $12.26 to recoup the costs that year (when the federal grazing fee was $1.43 an AUM, and it’s even lower now).

    And these were only “direct” costs, not factoring in big items like continued water and soil degradation or opportunity costs of not having more wildlife that could generate more revenue from birdwatchers or hunters.

    I think people can “get it” if you can start talking concrete facts, such as these crazy costs imposed on the public, juxtaposed with the degraded conditions we all know exist of trampled riparian areas.

    Also to address Vickif’s point about people don’t want anymore job losses–we’re only talking about 20,000 ranchers with public lands grazing permits, and many of them are hobby ranchers who don’t rely on livestock production for their livelihoods.

    Furthermore, the fact that a cattle or sheep producer can’t use public lands for a few months out of the year doesn’t mean he must go out of business. They can adapt their operations to changed circumstances like a lot of us who have faced layoffs, changes in careers, etc.

    For instance, a cattle rancher in my neighborhood raises all-grass fed cows on his private pastures, using no public lands for forage, and slaughters them locally. He gets a premium for his beef, and customers like the local and healthful aspect of buying from him.. His operation seems to be holding up well in this economy. Why can’t other ranchers do something similar?

  11. avatar vicki says:

    Salle,
    I whole heartedly agree. It should be muchmore simple, shouldn’t it? It seems quite obvious. Logically it is obvious.
    Like Ralph said….it is more about how Americans perceive things (the Western Mythology).

    Debra K,
    Your points are so valid. But we may look and say “irt’s only 20,000”. The rest of society still relates very much to those 20,000. You have to also factor in the people who are involved with tose 20k, as the very much live in a ‘community’ lifestyle.
    I agree it is not optimal, but we very much have to deconstruct rural government monoploy by ranchers in a sensative and public relations friendly way.
    I would also like to add that anyone might see it differently if they were among those 20k. It may seem like a small number but when you look at how badly unemployment is eefecting the global economy, 20k is a huge number to reconcile.

    Brian,
    You are right to address the economics of it, and what I think is so majorly in need of being done is to (As posted above) get the economics of PLR to sink into the minds of others as BAD!!

    Let’s keep trying to persuade people to see the lack of interity that goes with ranching on public lands.

  12. avatar Maska says:

    It might also be instructive if the congressional banking subcommittee took a hard look at the use of public lands grazing leases as collateral for loans. This practice clearly creates enormous pressure on agencies to refrain from lowering stocking rates, but you have to wonder what distortions it creates in banking, as well. (I believe this practice is still going on. Ralph or Brian, can you confirm this?)

  13. Maska,

    That is a good idea.

    It is still going on and getting worse as banks try to figure out how to improve their financial condition.

  14. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    maska,

    yes – public lands ranchers are currently allowed – and a significant number do – take loans out against permits for use of our public lands. ‘escrow waivers’ … it’s enron-style financial scheme.

  15. avatar Rusty says:

    At some point the environmental groups need to figure out that nuclear power is the greenest energy available. Any hope of reducing greenhouse gases without nuclear power is a pipe dream.

  16. avatar vicki says:

    Rusty,
    WHy do you have that opinion?

  17. avatar Rusty says:

    Because in my opinion it is true. Nuclear power has its issues for instance:
    1. Mining if not done correctly can devastate water sources (the same is true of almost everything we mine).
    2. The disposal of spent fuel continues to be an issue the government can not or will not work through. The fact that all current spent fuel is stored on site at individual plants is not acceptable.
    3. Requires reliable water source for cooling.

    The advantages are:
    1. No greenhouse gas emissions.
    2. Very low carbon footprint. No need to ship fuel daily. Most plants refuel every 18 months.
    3. Has a large power to acres ratio compared to other forms of electrical generation.

    Wind power ruins the landscape and kills migratory birds. There is no such thing as clean coal.
    Natural gas plants can be clean only if the use clean gas. Many do not.
    Solar panels are ugly and the technology is very inefficient.

    Like I said this is just my opinion. But without a large die off of humans we have to choose what will have the smallest environmental impact.

    I would be curious what others opinions are. Please rank the following with number 1 being the best option for you (please add forms of generation that I left off).

    Coal
    Wind
    Solar
    Nuclear
    Gas

  18. avatar Wyo Native says:

    Rusty,

    You make some very good points. I would like to add to your info, if I may, that “Natural Gas” that is used in Power Generation is almost always Methane (CH4). Most power applications require methane only gas because of the BTU values that are required for correct fuel/air mixtures to prevent NOx gasses after combustion.

    Although “Natural Gas” when it leaves the earth does contain other molecules of gas such as Propane, Ethane, Butane, and Pentane, these heavies are removed at processing plants prior to delivery of the gas to power producers. It is required for interstate commerce that the purity of Natural Gas be 99% pure before the gas can enter transmission pipelines, to be used by consumers.

    As for my top types of power producers,

    1. Nuclear
    2. Natural Gas (with CO2 and NOx sequestration, like we have at the plant I work at here in Wyoming)
    3. Coal (From underground mining, and with CO2 sequestration)
    4. Wind

  19. avatar vickif says:

    Rusty,
    Thank you very much for expressing those opinions. I am always interested in hearing people’s reasoning as it sheds light on possible avenues to take.

    I agree to some extent. But I live about 10 miles from a nuclear power plant-it is as ugly as any other sources are. Asthetics, in my opinion, are not as signifigant as effects on the environment though, so that isn’t as big of a deal to me. Frankly, I look out at a massive brown cloud every day, and no turbine, panel or plant is any more ugly. (The pollution around the front rage and metro Denver area is now a band that you can see from space and from 360 degrees around my home.)

    I don’t know that I have ever read, until now, that turbines kill migratory birds. But I have read that there was concern about effects on their migratory patterns. I have read more recently though that those concerns had been largely discredited in studies. I would gladly read your resources if you’d like to provide them.

    As far as nuclear power, the issue of waste is a major negative for me. It is there, and doesn’t go away. I work in the medical field and see people fairly often who have been exposed (Chernobyl) to waste. It caused irrepairable harm, cancers, lung desease, thyroid failure, neuropathies. It is a huge concern-but I do work in the medical field, so it hits closer to home for me.

    I have big concerns about safety with nuclear power too. We already have national security issues, and cannot say with certainty that there are not dirty bombs being toted around in country now. If those bombs, or any others, were to find it’s way through our defenses, we’d be in trouble. That could be said of a lot of things when it comes to power, but aside from bombing oil wells or nuclear plants, no other sources of energy could cause wide spread death and desease. They could merely cause a cease in energy usage and shut down of government (which would be more quickly remedied than cleaning up nuclear waste or oil fumes.) And nuclear doesn’t provide many jobs, unlike producing and maintaining solar panels, turbines and gas lines.

    Methane, well, I have seen it be “mined and filtered” from feed lots. Until we have no cows, we could atleast make use of the manure, or make the manure somewhat useful. It can be expensive though, but does pay back revenue to the feed lots when sold to energy companies. That is incentive to keep cattle contained to feedlots, a bonus. (Down side- until we mandate that manure be reused and filtered for gas production, I doubt many feedlots will convert without huge incentives.)
    Natural gas is, well, natural. But any type of gas causes the need for ways to transport and then utilize it. Refieries (don’t know the exact term) are also ugly.

    Solar, though historically unsightly, is by far the cleanest and least harmful approach. They have made strides in solar panel production, now having panels and tiles that can be placed flush onto a pitch roof, therefore they are less hard on the eye. If having an ugly panel on a roof were the biggest draw back, I say we call it chic and place them everywhere. But , sadly, solar’s biggest downfall is price. Once it becomes more affordable, we will see it more. It is already the newest trend in home design and renovation, sweeping it’s way through California in big style.

    As I see it (no expert though), solar is going to have to be small local grid designs, or it will be too costly and difficult to convert on national scale. Having smaller grids would also be safer, as it would limit impact by terrorists.

    Mining, as listed above, is still mining, and I would assume (though I could be very wrong) that it causes geographic harm to the land it is done beneath. Though it may be able to be cleaned up as far as emmisions go, it still causes irreversable change to natural structures. It also requires energy to move and clean, right?(Again I don’t really know much about it.)

    I say it needs to be a combination of these energies, based on compatibility within the area it is to be placed. Place solar grids on California and Vegas roof tops, and government buildings. Stick wind on privately owned border ranches and pay those ranches for the energy to compensate for lost revenue from losing grazing permits. Make cattle corporations reuse their methan and clean it up. Mine in areas where there is already mining taking place, but be very restrictive and place restoration guidelines on it.
    Ofcourse whatever sources we go with, there needs to be industry and employment for it to be helpful economically.

    My list, though I am intrigued by everyone’s ideas:

    1. Small solar grids (individual home sustainability would be awesome)
    2. Wind
    3. Gas/Nuclear

    None of these are perfect, but we are never going to achieve perfection. What we can do is figure out the best solutions possible, for the circumstances we are given. But I have to say again, how it looks is a lot less important than how it works and how it helps.

  20. avatar kt says:

    Maska,

    Ranchers even take out annual operating loans on permitted AUMs. Maybe that us where al the new big pick-us on some ranches come from.

    FOIAs to the BLM and Forest Service these days are showing that the “actual use”, i. e. the numbers of AUMs being grazed in many areas, are often way below the number of AUMs that are permitted, i. e show up on the permit.

    SO – a question banks (and ranch buyers and appraisers) need need to ask is: Are ranchers getting loans on fantastical AUM numbers (permitted) that are impossible to graze on the degraded public lands where the particular rancher runs cows/sheep? If so, DO the banks always know this, or are they deceiving the banks?

    THIS may partially explain why BLM and the Forest Service are so loathe to shave a single AUM off a permit. The rancher welfare loan structure would be start crumbling … One sees this fantasy-land “permitted” AUM level on permits big and small – from the Simplot welfare public lands cow empire to small public lands permits.

    I just wonder how many “toxic”/in reality non-existent AUMs on the land have loan upon loan taken out on them? Is it appropriate to call loans ot ranchers made on paper cow numbers ‘toxic”? An economist tyope might know …

    ALSO – a note on the awful Crapo Bill – Idaho’s Owyhee Initiative- SOME of the AUMs proposed to be bought out there are in reality are non-existent on the land – ranchers have not been able to graze BLM “permitted” numbers for decades now – ‘cuz they have so trashed the lands. So in the OI, AUMs to be bought out are really paper cows in many areas – and the same or even more AUMs that have actually been grazed in the past will continue to be grazed in some no-water right” wilderness” areas areas. The bottomline is: Owyhee Ranchers are scamming the naive …

  21. avatar kt says:

    Also – anyone who is involved in commenting on or trying to understand public lands grazing EAs, Rangeland health analyses, etc. needs to comment that the agency must provide the actual use AUMs, year by year, for the past couple of decades to understand the number of AUMs that are actually being grazed and that are causing damage to public land.

    And sorry for the typos in the previous comment – sent it off too soon.

  22. kt,

    Very cleaver! I’ll ask the BLM how many “toxic AUMs” — “paper cows” (good too) they have on each grazing allotment.

  23. avatar bob jackson says:

    I don’t usually foray into Western grazing practices and solutions but as a bison farmer in Iowa I have had to deal quite a bit with entrenched govt.-farmer relationships. I have always “won” when it came to going up against these socio-economic biases. Sometimes it has even meant going to arbitration in state offices of FSA and SCS to get environmental priorities back on top with my farm and associated support systems.

    I also have dealt quite a bit with outfitters in and outside Yellowstone and knew where it hurt them most (bank loans) when I was trying to get them to stop camp and stock abuse…and the govt. folks in the Forest Service and Park Service had no backbone to enforce those rules.

    What I found during my 30 years with the govt. is basically one has to make the govt. folks PERSONALLY accountable for their actions.

    One scenario if one sees riparian abuse, as I see pictures on this site once in awhile, take them to the govt office responsible for this lease and starting from the bottom up ask them to sign this picture or a paper addressing this picture that this land is under their jurisdiction. Or send by certified letter. You don’t even have to accuse them of lax oversight. Of course, they won’t sign it but then you can go to their boss and ask who is because the low dog employee won’t take responsibility for it. Then keep going up. When you have reached high enough you have fuel. Then get ahold of the regional office with expanded fuel and explain no one is taking responsibility in their field office.

    Then since no one will actually do anything about it, put up a roadside sign across from the office or as close as any owner will let you take out the space and put a picture of all these folks on it and the fact that this abuse is happening under their command. Maybe a sign ajoining showing a picture of the rancher and his family with the abuse next to them on this poster. (make sure you don’t make yourself liable but just remember you can do as much as any outside group does to degrade any presidentual candidate when it comes to govt actions.

    Also, many of these field office govt. folk have gone “native” and have operations and land the same as the good ole boys.

    I used the above technique in power point presentations during state arbitration for riparian support. The elected FSA county commissioners and the FSA staff had some of the worst lands with crops of corn and beans …and cows….right next to waterways. Took pictures of abuse on their lands and told the state boys I would post it in an ad in the local newspapers when it was time for elections or promotions. Plus, if the state didn’t want to enforce federal regulations I said I would approach the Des Moines Registers environmental editors with information for a story and possible interviews with these same state employees.

    I must admit I had done other stories with these reporters on a proposed nuclear waste facility slated for my county, and with abuse by DNR higher ups in wanting to flood out Army Corp ground for duck hunting …while by so doing killing the largest virgin flood plain forest in Iowa.

    But as long as one can give the reporters all the fuel in way of pictures and a list of folks, phone numbers, and questions to ask (and likely answers) these folks it should get results whether you have gone this route or not before.

    As for outfitters, the banks were the key to getting these abusers to comply. My bosses would not want to contact banks even though the bank or absentee investor was the real owner of the concession contract. If things got heated in camp all I had to do is say “one way or another your financier will find out if your concession permit is on probation” (the Park and Forest Service always had a bunch of these camps on probation but never would follow through with terminating it).

    It was by far the best leverage I had. I suggest you do a FOIA on any grazer abusing the land and I bet those yellow backed govt folks have a file on this guy stating some kind of warning to this rancher. The govt boys do this to protect their job. They will deny you access but even if you don’t get it in the end (they will have to give you minutes to govt. meetings and they will black out the affected persons name but there are always clues because the different agencies involved note different but collaberating evidence) the heat is on these govt folk. most agencies have memorandums of Understanding (MOI) with other agencies especially in any law enforcement action. If a contract user is even put on probation by one it affects what the other agency does. In practise the agency not directly involved looks the other way…until you make them do something. They will do something on paper when confronted because they want to protect their lousy govt. position ass. For example if a rancher is a outfitter and has any blemish with the state game and fish department then this should affect his BLM cattle lease conditions.

    Dig deep my friends and you will be amazed with what you come up with.

    Use govt. warnings and probations against abusers and with this compiled file go to the bank and let them know this ranchers loan could be in jeopordy if this ranchers permit gets pulled. The banker will then talk to this person and hopefully the rancher will go with his tail between his leg and obey. He will hate you but so what. If the banker is of the same good ole boy vintage then take this lack of bank officer action to his boss or parent bank.

    Get the idea? Make everyone in line accountable and follow through with your plan of action. I know the above is a bit simplified but anyone with a bit of creativity can come up with as good or better ways to get to where it hurts. Maybe a sign of this ranchers mug on the road across from his church. Don’t even put a word on it if you’re afraid of getting sued. The word will get out as to why this guy is on the poster. Good luck with your hunting.

  24. avatar Maska says:

    Thanks, Ralph, Brian, and kt, for elaborating on what actually goes with regard to loans based on permitted AUM’s. It seems to me that anyone concerned about the integrity of the banking system ought to be interested in an investigation of this practice.

  25. avatar Bonnie says:

    I rank wind as my top energy choice. Granted, there are some studies that indicate wind farms may have an adverse impact on migrating birds, but overall, I think that is a lesser impact on the environment as a whole that the other options.

    It’s almost a toss up between nuclear and solar. I don’t like the storage issues and potential for contamination and heath problems that exist with nuclear, but on the other side it is very efficient at producing a lot of energy with a minimal carbon footprint. Solar has great potential for producing a lot of power with little carbon waste as well, but from everything I’ve read so far, it appears that without significant breakthroughs in the technology, we would have to be prepared to install huge solar panel farms to produce enough energy to make a significant impact. The most efficient place to put those farms would be the places that get the most sunshine, i.e. the deserts of the Southwest. We all know that nobody would want to take agricultural land out of production to install solar panels so that means the fragile desert would take the hit. IMO there isn’t any way that we could install enough panels to do the job without significant impact on most of the species (animal and plant) that populate the desert. All in all, I guess I would give the nod to nuclear.

    I rank gas ahead of coal, simply because while they are both filthy energy sources (IMHO), gas has a little cleaner record. Between coal mining and gas wells, I think gas tends to spread it’s filth over a smaller area. They both produce dirty and dangerous emissions, but again, I think gas produces a little less to create an equivalent amount of energy. I would really love to celebrate the day when both are no longer used, but I doubt I will live that long.

  26. avatar brian ertz says:

    The reform of Wildlife Service’s in the report recommends re-appropriating funds to the agency to stress non-lethal means of predator control to minimize conflict between ranchers and predators.

    it seems to me like this’d be a nice budget to cut rather than reform.

    other than that it’s a lofty document. it is certainly disappointing that the most pervasively destructive use of public lands (livestock grazing) is conspicuously omitted, especially when confronting this issue is at the heart of so many of the issues discussed – especially while other land-uses are not omitted – and have less a causal contribution to the problems, but ultimately i’d say that the document was written as if it was drafted by a group of policy-wonks – probably not a lot of experience with boots on the ground out west. that’s a problem and it seems to me like it’s likely a good time to begin educating folk in congress, in the administration, and even those who hold positions in establishment “green” groups. it seems to me that to get people to see the landscapes is half the battle – and i can’t believe that someone who has that experience would not be moved to act.

    a nice quote from the report :

    2. Aggressively fund carbon sequestering land restoration
    Develop priority lists and budget proposals for the re-creation of mature, old growth and grassland systems and the maintenance of soil integrity, to demonstrably enhance carbon storage, fish and wildlife habitat, and related ecological services.

  27. Brian,

    I think the matter of carbon storage in soil, or the lack thereof, is going to emerge as one of the most important of all the greenhouse gas issues — perhaps as important as direct CO2 emissions from coal plants, autos, etc.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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