Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is rumored to be a front-runner for nomination as Secretary of the Interior, where she would oversee millions of acres of public land. But a livestock “pilot” program she instituted in Washington, which fast-tracked the introduction of livestock grazing on Washington Wildlife Areas free of charge to ranchers, while running roughshod over the concerns of agency wildlife biologists, should give wildlife advocates pause.

Memorandum of Understanding with the cattle industry

Governor Gregoire accepting an award from the Washington Cattlemen’s Association

Under Governor Gregoire’s tenure, in 2005 and 2008, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) signed and renewed a politically-motivated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA), to encourage livestock grazing on Washington’s Wildlife Areas. See the MOU.

The stated purpose of the MOU was to “facilitate the establishment of several pilot-grazing projects” by opening WDFW lands to livestock grazing, when many of those lands had not been grazed for many years. According to the MOU, the WCA was “interested in expanding opportunities for cattlemen to use public land for livestock grazing.”

Governor Gregoire took a personal interest in the development of the MOU, ordering her staff to complete it in order to develop a better relationship with the cattlemen after several months of private meetings with them, and attending a WCA convention to accept a gift of a large cowboy hat.

Unsurprisingly, introducing livestock grazing on Washington Wildlife Areas—which by statute, are to be managed for the benefit of fish and wildlife, not for economic return—proved to be disastrous both for the grazed areas and for the scientific integrity of the agency.

Introduction of grazing onto Wildlife Areas

Two of the areas first authorized for grazing “pilot projects” were the Asotin Wildlife Area in southeastern Washington and the Whiskey Dick/ Quilomene Wildlife Area in central Washington.

Cattle trampling a spring on the Asotin Wildlife Area, Washington. Photo – Katie Fite

The Asotin Wildlife Area is extremely steep, and home to a variety of wildlife and rare plants, as well as Snake River steelhead, chinook salmon, and bull trout, all protected under the Endangered Species Act. WDFW hurriedly strung miles of fencing in the Wildlife Area to create pastures for the re-introduction of grazing. Tragically, a worker was paralyzed in a severe fall while building the fencing. WDFW proceeded to dump the cattle in the area, free of charge to the ranchers, beginning in 2006.

WDFW’s biologists protested that the perfunctory grazing plans developed were based on political pressure rather than science; that the purported goal to improve fish and wildlife habitat would not be achieved; and that the number of livestock and degree of cattle use proposed were far too high and “not biologically justifiable.” WDFW’s managers repeatedly ignored the concerns, dismissing them as a “headache.”

Asotin Wildlife Area, 25 May, 2007. Photo: Dr Don Johnson.

Sure enough, havoc quickly broke loose. Due to a “misunderstanding,” the rancher placed 200 more cows on the area than allowed. The cows proceeded to enter and damage creeks containing steelhead and salmon, despite promises that this would not occur. And grazing use quickly blasted past the levels recommended by the biologists. Despite WDFW’s promises that permits would be cancelled if violations occurred, WDFW simply permitted the rancher to move his cows to another pasture, where they quickly caused similar problems along a different creek. One wildlife biologist noted that areas near water tanks were “trashed, right down to the dirt.” Needless to say, the biologists agreed that the goal of “improving wildlife habitat” was not met.


View Pintler Creek Unit.kmz in a larger map

Instead of heeding its scientists and pulling the plug, WDFW responded by doubling down on grazing and further committing $428,000 of taxpayer money in a four-year contract with Washington State University to monitor grazing damage—on top of the thousands already spent administering the free grazing.

The grazing was only halted after Western Watersheds Project successfully sued the WDFW for renewing the permit in 2009, arguing that doing so despite the serious harm to fish and wildlife was contrary to WDFW’s governing mandate to protect wildlife. The state judge’s ruling for WWP read, in part:

Quite frankly, as I began to review the record, I was quite shocked. The parts of the record designated for review contained very harsh criticism by the Department’s own scientists about grazing in the Asotin wilderness area. . . . There was nothing in the record that I found that showed that the prior grazing practices in this area had any benefit to any wildlife. I think I could categorically say there was no evidence that there was any benefit to wildlife. In fact, there had been harm to wildlife by overgrazing. . . .

Unless the Department had some idea that there was going to be no detriment or some benefit to wildlife, they, under their own mission, were in a position of being arbitrary and capricious in awarding the lease that they had no scientific evidence or no evidence to support. . . .

Similar environmental concerns were raised by WDFW’s “pilot” site in the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area. This area includes potential habitat for the deeply imperiled (indeed, almost extinct) Columbia Basin Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse. Again, WDFW wildlife biologists protested about the political pressure they were under to rubber-stamp the grazing and how the agency was ignoring science, with one observing that “[i]f another public agency used the same tactics, WDFW would be screaming mad[,] and I find the current process unprofessional and embarrassing.”


View Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area.kmz in a larger map

Western Watersheds Project likewise challenged WDFW’s issuance of a permit in this Wildlife Area complex, with a different state judge finding that WDFW had unlawfully ignored the Washington State Environmental Policy Act in issuing the permit with no public process.

And so, Governor Gregoire’s bid to use Washington’s Wildlife Areas as a pawn to curry favor with the livestock industry largely fizzled out in the courts.

Legacy of suppressing science?

Other issues raise cause for concern as well. As discussed on this blog, WDFW recently presided over the killing of the entire Wedge Pack of wolves in north-central Washington.

And under her administration, Washington’s water quality standards for toxic pollution have remained among the least protective in the nation. EPA criticized the standard for not protecting human health, but Gov. Gregoire and the Washington Department of Ecology steadfastly refused to revise the outdated standard to protect people who regularly eat fish and shellfish from Washington waters. Caving to pressure from industries that benefit from lax pollution control, Governor Gregoire’s latest delay tactic was setting up a stakeholder committee to study the issue for one or two more years, while the people of Washington remain exposed to toxic pollution.

But perhaps most troubling for someone nominated to lead Interior– which includes some of the nation’s premier science agencies, such as USGS– is how her administration treated dissenting scientists within the WDFW during the pilot grazing program. Memo after memo from WDFW wildlife biologists referenced the intense political pressure they were under to approve the livestock plans, while upper managers consistently ignored or dismissed their concerns as a “headache.” We need to learn more about Governor Gregoire’s commitment to scientific integrity. Suppression of science should be unacceptable for an administration that has pledged an increased respect for science– a pledge which is in dire need of strengthening.


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About The Author

Kristin Ruether

118 Responses to Governor Gregoire’s Troubling Livestock Legacy

  1. avatar Sam Parks says:

    Yikes, she doesn’t sound much better than Salazar. Too bad we can’t afford Raul Grijalva.

    • avatar Laura Perkinson says:

      I am appalled you did not do a better research on how this came about. I know for a fact she tried to stop this killing of the wolf pack, But Washington State has a different Dept of Wildlife. it is not under the control of the Governors office. The Fish and Wild life caved in to One single rancher. I was at the meeting and the outrage was there and I am pretty darn sure this will not happen again. The Governor was outraged this took place and sent her best advisor to see why and what to do to make sure it does not happen again.

      She loves animals and is a caring person who hates to see them hurt. You guys better pray she gets this job. Unlike Ken Salazar. She will keep Wildlife listed.

      • avatar Ken Cole says:

        Outrage behind closed doors doesn’t prevent what you claim she was outraged about. If this is really true, why did she remain silent?

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          especially when a WA senator instigated an investigation and openly condemned the actions

          • avatar Kristi says:

            She did NOTHING to try to stop the killing of the Wedge pack. She had all calls to her about it forwarded to WDFW because the phone was ringing non-stop, over 1,000 calls IF memory serves. She had those calls transferred to WDFW and then THEY turned off their phones. She is in bed with the ranchers and did NOTHING to stop this from happening.

      • avatar leopardfrog says:

        It’s good to know this. Send more info if you have it. Clearly this would not have been ignored if the info was easily available. For now, the bottom line is the concern that she will cater to ranchers at the expense of wildlife. That is MOSTLY ALL we care about. And to have past and currently ongoing injustices perpetrated against wildlife STOPPED IMMEDIATELY and investigated with transparency. Nothing less.

      • avatar Kristin Ruether says:

        Laura, thanks for your comment. We edited the post to reflect that WDFW presided over the killing of the Wedge Pack. I am glad to hear she has a soft spot for animals. Please note that we did not state that Gov. Gregoire was categorically unfit for office–only that the livestock actions described raise questions that need to be discussed. If you have examples of good things she has done for Washington wildlife, please do share them.

        • avatar leopardfrog says:

          If Ken Salazar goes, keep in mind there is likely to be NO discussion. The person will be selected – period. We do the best we can with information that is generally easily accessible.

      • avatar Jim says:

        You are completely wrong. She just recently allowed the purchase of the4=0 ranch for 10 million and specifically allowed grazing to be part of the deal, that way no one could remove the grazing part. And she didnt even try to stop the killings of these wolves. They are all dead, aren’t they.

  2. avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Another person with a cowboy hat.Lets make the cow the new national emblem.

  3. avatar Savebears says:

    She has been no friend to wildlife, Obama, might be the great savior, but his taste is for shit when it comes to high level positions!

  4. avatar timz says:

    If she is nominated expect plenty of “Romney would have picked someone worse” from the Obummer apologists.

  5. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Oh boy. She might even make Ken Salazar look good.

  6. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    Please send letters until your fingers ache to everyone in Congress that may have an influence with the current administration re candidates for Interior. Gregoire is no leader for protecting natural venues. She quickly put state parks and environmental related programs on the losing end of budget cuts in this state. She also avoided at all costs the wolf Wedge Pack issue when as a lame duck she could have stepped in without spending political capital. Instead she put out the official statement that her hands were tied because she had no authority! What a cop-out she is a closet cowboy and will ride side by side with all the cowboy hats in the west. I really think she will be much much worse than Salazar. I still think the best move would be a republican with an out spoken record for preserving the natural environment. An Ed Abbey type is what we all want but face it that would just ensure every measure would be fought and speared until sunk. Pick an intelligient conservative that can bring along some from the right side of Congress and we’ll be farther ahead in four years than if we pick a hardened environmentalist. In some cases it is prudent to go along to get along.

  7. avatar Nancy RWL says:

    No, no, no!! Say it isn’t so- She sounds really horrible but she isn’t nominated yet. Let’s hope this trial balloon fizzles.

  8. avatar Leslie says:

    Although I live in WY I still have ties in CA (2 dem senators) and would write them. What suggestions might you have Larry for better picks?

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      Congressman Raul Grijalva.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Contact the White House by email and suggest Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona.

      He is the only member of Congress I like on Facebook. Grijalva was chairman of the House Natural Resources committee before the Repubs took over. He has the experience.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        I wrote to one of the directors of the larger environmental ngos – not Defenders- that I correspond with occasionally. I wrote that I think advocates are wildly ineffective because we do not present a national cohesive voice and that we are always on the defensive. With the rumors about Salazar’s departure it would be a good time to try a proactive national strategy undertaken collectively. This is the time to demand a replacement that does not come with layers of unadulterated conflict of interest and that shows some real interest in stewardship of public lands and protecting national trust resources rather then pushing them to the highest bidder. Its frustrating to me that the NGOs don’t work strategically together to come up with national strategies that can be accomplished collectively and procatively. Think about the trajectory of wolf management had the Secretary been someone like Babbitt, or Grijalva, as some of you suggest. I hope we see some pressure from these groups in advance instead of bitching about a bad appointment after the fact.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Louise Kane,

          I think you are right about the groups not having any strategy to get a good secretary of the DOI.

          • avatar SAP says:

            Greens are marginalized by economic/fiscal crisis and failure to make themselves relevant to normal Americans. While conservatives took a drubbing this time around, they’re still way more unified than the Fragmented Left.

        • avatar JB says:

          “Its frustrating to me that the NGOs don’t work strategically together to come up with national strategies that can be accomplished collectively and procatively.”

          Louise: Its frustrating to me that the hunters and non-hunting wildlife advocates don’t work strategically together to come up with national strategies that can be accomplished collectively and proactively.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Boy JB,

            You said a mouthful and I agree with your statement 100%

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            JB that would be productive really but I think with groups like the NRA, Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Big Game Forever, and others pushing such heavy handed predator killing policies, its hard to find common ground. I don’t think its very balanced right now – hunters have a lot of say in how wildlife is managed while non consumptive users basically get ignored. I think thats going to change some – and then maybe when the playing field is more level the conversations might be easier. For now, its very unbalanced.

            what ideas can you bring to the table that would reflect some of the concerns people have about heavy handed predator policy, overly long seasons, no refuges from hunting etc.

            I am truly interested.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              So am I Louise!

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Until we get past the accusation of most hunters or most conservationists, we will continue on the same path that has developed in the last 25 years.

              Painting the members of a whole community as left or right, will never breach the gap that exists now a days.

              Louise you did it yesterday, when the number of less than 2% was posted, well if it is only 2% why do it at all.

              Both sides are listening to a small percentage of the actual numbers to assume that all do it.

              Which we know is not true.

              The day and age of the internet has allowed to small minorities look like the big majority, when in fact it is still just a small percentage that are radical.

            • avatar JB says:

              “…what ideas can you bring to the table that would reflect some of the concerns people have about heavy handed predator policy…”

              Louise: Groups like the NRA, SCI and HSUS have done a great job of highlighting areas where conservationists disagree about policy–all the while reaping the benefits ($$) in the form of membership and donations. It hasn’t helped conservation one bit. By keeping us divided, they ensure we will spend our collective cash in the courts fighting each other, instead of making real progress.

              So why not start with carnivores? I don’t think it’s productive to start a relationship by trying to negotiate on issues where the parties disagree (you wouldn’t start your first date by insisting that your parents live with you once you’re married). What’s needed first is some minimum modicum of trust. That comes from working together on issues where we do agree, e.g., land conservation, easements, habitat restoration, removal of invasive-exotics. With a few successes, and the working relationship and trust that comes with it, then you can start to negotiate on the issues that divide you. While this might sound like a cliche–you have to start with common ground to get anything done.

              So where would I start? Most state wildlife agencies and lots of hunting groups are worried about disappearing dollars for conservation. Why not start by finding groups willing to revive the idea of a tax on non-consumptive wildlife-related equipment to support wildlife conservation? Such legislation could be directed toward non-game and put biodiversity preservation before game management, all the while providing additional habitat protection/restoration (benefiting non-game and game alike). This would show hunters and agencies that you (i.e., non-consumptive users) are interested in more than just suing, and help bridge the gulf that exists.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                JB I think the non consumptive user tax is a fine idea – I worked at the NOAA Center for Habitat Restoration for a number of years and am familiar with the cooperative agreements and contracts that evolve as a result of partnerships. As you point out, there is a trust issue that needs to be bridged and I like your idea of starting in areas of common ground as you suggested, If those areas we do agree, on include land conservation, easements, habitat restoration, removal of invasive-exotics, I’d also propose setting aside areas where wildlife can be free from hunting – this would go along way in helping bridge the gulf that exists from the other side. It does need to work both ways. And carnivores- yes as I have spoken about in the past, thats another good place to start.

              • avatar Savebears says:

                Louise,

                If we are to look at the country as a whole, there are far more areas that is off limits to hunting that you even realize.

              • avatar JB says:

                Louise:

                If we were able to get an excise tax off the ground to fund land acquisition for biodiversity protection, I suspect much of the land chosen would be de-facto off limits (see also, SB’s comment). As I am sure you know, many of the “biodiversity hotspots” (at least in the eastern US) are riparian areas and shoreline, and water features are some of the most desirable for development. Such habitat tends to be fragmented and located near urban areas and development, which often effectively restricts hunting. To be clear, I would not have a problem with using such funds to create true “refuges” for wildlife; but I don’t think you’d want to come to the table insisting that hunting be banned on all such lands.

                You might be interested in the Teaming with Wildlife coalition (http://teaming.com/), which is seeking similar types of funds by taxing oil, gas and mineral extraction.

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            I also agree.

          • avatar CaptainSakonna says:

            How do you work together with people whose goals are diametrically opposed to yours? I realize that some hunters have a genuine interest in species and biodiversity preservation, but I care just as much about the protection of INDIVIDUAL animals. Hence, I don’t see myself having much ability to cooperate with hunters.

          • avatar Mike says:

            ++Louise: Its frustrating to me that the hunters and non-hunting wildlife advocates don’t work strategically together to come up with national strategies that can be accomplished collectively and proactively.++

            Hard to do when many hunting groups oppose roadless areas, and support anti-wilderness legislation like the American Sportsman Act.

            • avatar JB says:

              Mike:

              Do you only befriend those with whom you agree on every issue? Can you only work with colleagues with whom you agree on every issue? I do recall you said you have friends who are hunters; would you refuse to work with them on habitat conservation because you disagree with them regarding the rights of animals?

              The phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind.

              Besides a number of hunting groups HAVE supported roadless rules; so if wilderness means the most to you, perhaps you could start by working with them? Or maybe you’re more interested in sowing conflict than furthering the goals of conservation???

              • avatar Mike says:

                ++
                Do you only befriend those with whom you agree on every issue? ++

                Of course not. I’m friends with a wide variety of people. If I agreed with friends all the time, it sure would get boring.

                ++Can you only work with colleagues with whom you agree on every issue? I do recall you said you have friends who are hunters; would you refuse to work with them on habitat conservation because you disagree with them regarding the rights of animals?++

                No I would not., But the analogy doesn’t work. Manny, many hunters support removing lead form the EPA regulation list, or support developing roadless areas.

                ++
                Besides a number of hunting groups HAVE supported roadless rules; ++

                A very small portion.

                ++so if wilderness means the most to you, ++

                Wilderness and climate change are the ultimate issues. All habitat flow from wilderness. As a hunter, or fisherman, or hiker, there is nothing more important than roadless areas. Any activity OUTSIDE of preservation of roadless land is a “fix it” activity (stream restoration, tree planting, etc). Roadless areas don’t need to be fixed. That is why their preservation is the single most important aspect of conservation.

                ++perhaps you could start by working with them? Or maybe you’re more interested in sowing conflict than furthering the goals of conservation???++

                You can’t work with groups that are anti-roadless, as most hunters are. It is the core principle of conservation.

              • avatar JB says:

                The only place the analogy “doesn’t work” is your mind, and it fails because of your chronic misperceptions about hunters.

                So, for example, Mike says:

                “You can’t work with groups that are anti-roadless, as most hunters are.”

                Yet, per usual, Mike ignores the fact that hunting groups actually DO support roadless areas: “Sportsmen-conservationist leaders today offered their support of the Colorado roadless rule, a state-based management plan for Colorado’s national forest roadless areas…Its result is a plan for administration of 4.2 million acres of valuable backcountry lands located in the state.

                Mike also claims that, “Wilderness and climate change are the ultimate issues.”

                And what do hunters think about climate change? Let’s ask the NY Times, which carried entitled, “Hunters and Anglers Rally for Climate Bill”.

                So there you go, Mike. Hunting groups that support climate change legislation and roadless areas! What’s your excuse now?
                —-

                Read more at Ammoland.com: http://www.ammoland.com/2012/07/02/final-colorado-roadless-rule-supported-by-sportsmen/#ixzz2Du4w1L6x

                NY Times Article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/hunters-and-anglers-rally-for-climate-bill/

              • avatar Mike says:

                JB, I figured you would respond in such a way (using an exception to make your point), and already had my response planned.

                I’ve always been puzzled by your efforts to equate exception with majority.

                GOP-backed bill is most serious attack on America’s Wilderness Act in history

                http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/01/gop-backed-bill-is-most-serious-attack-on-americas-wilderness-act-in-history/

                Deceptively entitled the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, the bill (H.R. 4089) purports to protect hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. The bill is being pushed by powerful groups like the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International and supported by some of the most anti-wilderness Republicans in Congress. And it would effectively gut the Wilderness Act and protections for every wilderness in America’s 110-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System – everywhere from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness along the Montana-Idaho border that I can see from my home.
                The Christian Science Monitor (http://s.tt/1vr2j)

                99.9 percent of hunting groups support that bill. It’s one of the largest attacks on roadless areas in U.S. history.

                Please don’t post any more teency tiny weeny exceptions to try and prove your point. It doesn’t work, and makes you seem disingenuous.

              • avatar JB says:

                Mike:

                “Majority” is not a word that I used, so congratulations on erecting and summarily defeating a straw man. For hunters and non-hunting conservationists to work together requires groups on both sides that share common goals. What the above examples demonstrate is that such groups exist, and are actively pursuing the same goals that you (ostensibly) espouse to. People like you alienate hunters and set back conservation in the process.

              • avatar JB says:

                “99.9 percent of hunting groups support that bill. It’s one of the largest attacks on roadless areas in U.S. history.”

                That’s utter bullshit, Mike. You don’t have a scrap of empirical evidence to support the claim.

        • avatar Martha Vazquez says:

          I agree with Louise Kane. Thank you for voicing your concern.

        • avatar leopardfrog says:

          We need ONE BIG umbrella organization – and all the others to at least temporarily put their respective autonomies aside and join together. It’s the ONLY way to accomplish our goal(s) and give us the loudest, most effective voices possible. Though our goals are mostly shared, we are too fragmented to be appropriately effective.

  9. avatar Mark L says:

    I’ll second that choice. We can only hope….

  10. avatar Kathy L says:

    What is needed after the current devastation created by Salazar is a scientific mind with a true understanding of nature and wildlife.

  11. avatar Sam says:

    In addition to Gregoire’s wild spending and disrespect for the environment, she recently allowed WDFW to purchase the 4-0 ranch along the Blue Mnts, paying twice as much as valued (millions),and specifically worded the contract to include continued grazing at the pleasure of the rancher. By including grazing in the purchase contract they stated it would stop WWP or anyone else from challenging the grazing program. Shes all about moving up in the world.

  12. avatar Sam says:

    Kristine, Glad you took the time to put this together. I hope it get out to more general public individuals, who, if not educated on the environment, at least will get upset at the wasteful spending.
    Thanks!

  13. avatar Mike says:

    I think Obama gets his idea of the west from westerns.

    Another livestock apologist and anti-wildlife goof.

    • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

      No,Mike,he pulls the names out of a ten gallon cowboy hat.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      I don’t think that conservation of wildlife, wilderness, or an-in depth consideration of some of the issues that are discussed here regularly are really on the President’s radar screen. It seems like its probably not because of an opposition to true conservation ideals rather than a lack of exposure, the issues are not priorities, ignorance, having a full plate and making some really bad appointments, like Salazar in my opinion. It seems like the only issue remotely related to ecosystem health or conservation that was raised or discussed this last election (or during the first term) was one of energy and of climate change. It doesn’t seem like thats going to change much. Whether its ignorance or willful policy, its my biggest bitch about the Obama administration. We can always fix health care, the economy, but we can’t get reverse wilderness loss, habitat fragmentation, extinction, and huge environmental catastrophies, like the Gulf spill. If you don’t want another bad appointment – get ready to write a lot of letters and stay on the phone.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        We can always fix health care, the economy, but we can’t get reverse wilderness loss, habitat fragmentation, extinction, and huge environmental catastrophies, like the Gulf spill.

        You are so right – it is my biggest complaint also. So much damage has been done it is staggering, all of these wolves gone forever with the stroke of a pen.

        • avatar SAP says:

          Holy Guacamole! “We can always fix healthcare”?

          I share your passions and convictions about the natural world. But “we can always fix healthcare” just makes you sound completely disconnected with the challenges most Americans face.

          Hillary Clinton and her group tried to address our growing healthcare problems in 1993. Didn’t get it done, and no one was willing to even touch it again for almost a generation. Maybe part of it was our artificially hot economy, producing a lot of wealth and jobs (for some).

          In that time between HillaryCare & ObamaCare (cue gratuitous CommentBot posts about “Obummer” &c.), the situation grew worse, as we grew fatter and unhealthier. Millions of unhealthy, under-served Americans, waddling toward Medicare eligibility and bringing a KFC bucket of expensive chronic conditions with them. Awesome!

          “We can always fix healthcare”? Are you serious? It barely made it through this time. Fascist propagandists have even managed to convince people who would directly benefit from the Affordable Care Act that it’s the End of Days.

          If you care about wildlife and the environment, then you need to get used to the idea that we need to attend to a lot of basic concerns (jobs, health care, schools) for our fellow Americans so we can have money and attention span left over to pay for the things we care about.

          Whenever I hear someone say “We can always fix healthcare” or “Obamacare sucks; we should’ve held out for something better,” I assume the speaker either has plenty of money, and/or has employer-sponsored health insurance, or has already reached Medicare eligibility and doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Or, you’re incredibly healthy and/or altruistic.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            “Whenever I hear someone say “We can always fix healthcare” or “Obamacare sucks; we should’ve held out for something better,” I assume the speaker either has plenty of money, and/or has employer-sponsored health insurance, or has already reached Medicare eligibility and doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Or, you’re incredibly healthy and/or altruistic.”

            I’ve got MS, we have a small business that we pay insane amounts of money ourselves for our health care, and we are not Medicare age. Health care is a huge issue, but it can be revised and worked on despite the huge hurdles. Try getting in and cleaning out the Gulf. There are still effects after the Valdez spill. Catastrophic environmental damage can not sometimes be undone by a vote or a change in leadership.

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            I know what Louise means, though. Not to minimize national health care’s importance, it is huge. (And huge progress has been made by our President). But there are issues that no matter how much time, engergy and $$$ are devoted to them, will always be there requiring attention. Poor practices of not addressing the national debt, the economy, health care, our SS and Medicare being attacked because of poor gov’t management. When the healthcare issue was first brought up, the voters didn’t want it and it was associated with that “socialism” concept. In time people have come around, maybe because our economy has tanked. But meanwhile, there are issues that never get the attention they need and that if you asked them, people do support. The environment is very important to our health and well-being also.

            • avatar Ida Lupine says:

              For example, who’d have thought that we’d still be discussing women’s reproductive issues nearly 50 years later? And that all the progress made for the environment and human health like the EPA, ESA, Clean Air and Water, Toxic Substances, Wild Horses and Burros Act, Marine Mammals Act, to name only a few, are being chipped away at? We can’t let these things happen and I don’t think the public wants that either.

          • avatar Mtn Mamma says:

            Louise, I am an RN in acute care. I have to disagree that the USA healthcare can be fixed, if so it will take a century or more. The paradigm for “health” in this country is very far gone. Obamacare is a good start but just the beginning. The health of the planet and the health of humans are inseperable, but very few people understand or want to accept this. Healthcare and the “health” paradigm which feeds it both need an extreme overhaul.I am pestimistic at this point that either will happen. Most people are looking for a quick fix, like a knee replacement when their BMI is 33% and they have multiple comorbidities due to obesity. They are not thinking about how their diet is affecting their health, the health of the planet and therefore the health of future generations.I do think the planet has the ability to heal itself, if humans were absent from the picture.

      • avatar Maska says:

        Louise, I couldn’t agree more with your comment that some things can be fixed, but environmental destruction is permanent, in most cases.

        I think Obama’s political gurus wrote off conservationists from the very start. The guy who was then the head of Obama for America in my state stood up in front of a strategy training session for the local Democratic party and said, essentially, that only one or two percent of voters ever vote on environmental issues, thus we didn’t even figure in their analysis.

        It would be nice if the Democrats at the national level paid attention to Martin Heinrich’s recent Senate victory in which funds from conservation 501(c)(4) groups and from nature-loving individuals played a large part,as did the volunteer efforts of a significant number of conservationists. We may not exist in huge numbers, but at least in my neck of the woods, we’re willing to open our wallets and take time out of our schedules to help get really good candidates elected. Then, of course, we have to keep the pressure on once they’re in office.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Until you get the message to the inner cities, which is where the majority of the population in this country, you will continue to see the minority groups rule the roost.

          You have to get the message out, unfortunately the majority of people in this country never pay attention to environmental concerns.

          • avatar Maska says:

            I think the key is coalition building with other groups—in this case Martin’s people worked hard with women, labor, and Hispanics, but he didn’t ignore or disrespect people who care about nature.

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          good points Maska
          but I do think conservation advocates exist in good numbers as evidenced by the many NGOS from Sierra Club to Center for Biological Diversity to Howling for Wolves. There are hundreds of people dedicated to preservation and conservation.

          I think part of what makes it such an uphill battle is that there are so many attacks on so many fronts. Often small grass roots groups spring up in opposition to one issue or another, and while some of them may become successful (financially) or obtain good donor bases, its like stomping our wildfires with bare feet. really painful to share resources or people to come up with national strategies. I think the big NGOs need to come together, strategize on priorities they can agree on and then hire coordinators to work together as national coalitions, and advance these strategies. Maybe having task forces would be one way. Its different for wildlife, wilderness and conservation advocates then it is for say the NRA. The NRA is a huge organization with its fingers in every pie . Their members are dedicated to protecting the presence and use of weapons. They have insinuated themselves into wildlife and wilderness issues using the tact that hunting is a second amendment priviledge. Its a question of money, being on the defensive, and of always fighting big pockets like the NRA or extractive industries. And who is a more powerful foe than the oil, gas and coal industries? Two very powerful groups to work against. These are some of the wealthiest groups as well. Its a big uphill battle that needs a better strategy and coordination.

  14. avatar Atli says:

    How is this woman fit for managing public land in any way? Not a smidgeon of respect for science or wildlife. We need a compassionate person who will listen to science in this office, not a special-interest troglodyte.

  15. avatar Joseph C. Allen says:

    How about Dr. Doug Smith?

    • Dr. Doug doesn’t have respect for wildlife either. He treats wolves in Yellowstone as domestic livestock by darting, drugging and collaring as many as he can. Watch for the percentage of Yellowstone wolves he collars to go up now that some of the collared wolves have been shot by hunters. With the same number of collars and fewer wolves in the park, he will be putting collars on more wolves in each pack.
      Doug should be wearing a cowboy hat.

      • avatar Isabelle Coates says:

        Maybe a collar as well…… How would he like to be the hunted?

      • avatar SAP says:

        I think you should just have a computer program generate your posts for you, since they’re always the same content.

        Although claiming that Doug Smith thinks of wolves as “domestic livestock” is certainly a new low. Congratulations on out-doing yourself!

        • avatar Jay says:

          Larry is just mad that the wolf project won’t share collar data with him so he can get a leg up on getting good photo opportunities to exploit the wolves for financial gain.

      • avatar JB says:

        “He treats wolves in Yellowstone as domestic livestock by darting, drugging and collaring as many as he can.”

        Since when is darting, drugging and radio-collaring livestock a normal way of treating livestock? If you’re going to make outrageous claims about people, the least you can do is make them plausible. You aren’t even trying.

        • avatar SAP says:

          The CommentBot could match up topics of obsession with a range of whiny position statements, along with a RandoMiLlogic subroutine so that the resulting posts would have that human touch.

  16. avatar Isabelle Coates says:

    There are so many good people out there who work with wolves and other wildlife, why can’t they be in charge. We need people who understand the wolves etc, not people with pretty cowboy hats. I guess the only people who really understand the wolves and the other wildlife are still the American Natives, let them be in charge. They understood nature a lot better then the so called white people. How come a lot of people see the wildlife living next to the cattle in harmony except the ranchers do not, is it only money, money? They have to kill because of greed. And how come the problem becomes bigger and bigger the more years went by, can’t remember hearing about this 40 years ago.

  17. avatar Sam says:

    Why would sportsmen groups want to work with groups that support wolf populations without any management control? Most hunters do not like wolves, they believe wolves compete with them for deer/elk, and on the sage steppes they may very well increase the mortality of small game birds and rodents which typically have supported coyotes and birds of prey.
    Many hunters also are friendly to landowner for hunting purposes, so if landowners despise wolves then so does associated hunters.

    • avatar Jay says:

      “and on the sage steppes they may very well increase the mortality of small game birds and rodents which typically have supported coyotes and birds of prey.”

      Give me ONE single peer-reviewed citation saying this.

      • avatar Sam says:

        All I’m saying is that the introduction of a very keen predator ( without its own predator) into an area has to have some impact on local food chain. Its more about how the ecosystem re-adjusts to a new predator. Those species like the pigmy rabbit and sage grouse may be further reduced in numbers due to yrs of poor management, plus the appearance of a new predator.
        All Im saying we have plan ahead.

        • avatar Sam says:

          Should read “All Im saying is we have to plan ahead.

        • avatar jon says:

          Since when is the wolf considered a “new” predator? Wolves have been on the planet for millions of years.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jon,

            In the areas that he is talking about, they have not been there for over 100 years, so the ecosystem has adjusted to them not being there and things have evolved in that period of time.

            Now the ecosystem has to change to be inline with them being there.

        • avatar Jay says:

          Yes, humans always have done a stellar job of meddling with nature…

          In fact, wolves aren’t that keen of a predator if you look at their hunting success rates on various prey (8-10% for moose, ~20% for elk, etc.)–cougars are far more efficient predators than wolves. In fact, wolves may actually benefit pygmy rabbits and sage grouse through reduction of predators of those species (coyotes).

          • avatar jon says:

            They must be successful. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have some saying they are killing all the deer and elk and moose.

            • avatar Sam says:

              Oh yes, they know how to survive, they used to come into our hunting camp in the Selway, it was quite cool for me.

          • avatar Sam says:

            Hmm, I thought wolves have a rapid population growth rate which means they are doing something right like hunting in packs and less wary of humans, you dont see that with cougars. I was somewhat concerned wolves might push cougars out of there territory. I suspect there is a lot of dynamics going on throughout the food chain.

        • avatar Jay says:

          “All I’m saying is that the introduction of a very keen predator ( without its own predator) into an area has to have some impact on local food chain. Its more about how the ecosystem re-adjusts to a new predator. Those species like the pigmy rabbit and sage grouse may be further reduced in numbers due to yrs of poor management, plus the appearance of a new predator.
          All Im saying we have plan ahead.”

          I’d say this is a very salient point, if the predator you’re talking about is the two-legged kind.

          • avatar Sam says:

            I agree 100%. I was extremely mad/disappointed to see the WA pack destroyed because of a few ranchers and without any regard public input.

    • avatar jon says:

      Sam, what makes you say that most hunters don’t like wolves?

      • avatar Sam says:

        Man, here in ID or at least up in the Sel-Bitteroot and North-ID all big game hunters despise wolves, caribou, and bears, and all I hear from hunters and of course outfitters is the wolves are responsible for killing all the elk and deer and hound dogs. Its just one of their perceptions. IFG have tried to eliminate most all bear and cougar to get rid of those pesky predators. Of course they refuse to realize that they have over-huntered these areas for yrs. This is ID.
        Maybe in other parts of the West this isnt true.
        Preserving the Caribou habitat in north ID is going to be a real big fight, those people are fuming mad.

        • avatar jon says:

          Big game hunters hate bears and caribou as well? This is something I never heard before. Do you think Idaho fish and game are trying to get rid of as many wolves as possible?

          • avatar Sam says:

            Well, I shouldnt say all hunter despise bears, some of the more moderate one like to see them,but
            I know several outfitters who over the past yrs has been encouraged by IFG to use dogs in the Selway to hunt cougars and bears. I used to work for a few of them and it was always a push to remove predators. Lately I talked to a few sports shop owners around Lewiston and they were pissed at IFD and outfitters for basically exterminating bear populations. They said they used to see bears all the time when hunting but now they hardly see a one. I was surprised at there attitude but it was refreshing to hear it.

            • avatar Sam says:

              Im not sure about the wolves, if they hang around the Selway-Bitterroot and in the St. Joe forest where there are less livestock, they might not be a big problem. But I know hunters in those areas all the way to Grangeville and Hells Canyon forest they would rather see most all wolves dead.
              Some of teh hunters claim wolves scatter the elk or push them up higher into mnts which makes them harder to hunt. But they also continue to have great success in terms of shooting big bulls and deer. So I tend to think that scattering the elk around might be a good thing for elk-deer to avoid being over hunted. Man, nature can work in mysterious ways.

            • avatar MAD says:

              Sam, I appreciate your honesty in your comments; but unfortunately they seem to reinforce some of the allegations that a few on this board have about hunters (in general). Many claim that hunters are the “true conservationists”, but yet you say there are many hunters in Northern ID that are anti-wolf, bear cougar and even caribou in order to favor their lust for elk. How exactly is this conservation-minded favoring one “trophy” species over all others?

              And recreationalists like snowmobilers complaining? That’s hysterical considering the impacts they have on the landscape and wildlife (not to mention injuries associated with incompetent or intoxicated operators).

              For these very reasons, I cannot see an end to the acrimonious relationship between some hunting groups and environmentalists.

          • avatar Sam says:

            The caribou issue in north Idaho-propsed 375,000 acres of protection but settled for 35,000 acres. They reside in a highly commercialized areas for snowmobile riders and winter resorts,. Only about 50 caribou remain, I talked to one IFG from that area and he was actually supported more protection because they tend to become people friendly and get forced down to lower grounds from snowmobile traffic in the winter where they become easy prey for cougar.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Sam,

              My impression is the snowmobile lobby is the major anti-woodland caribou force.

              THey say they never see them anyway. They are rare, but can anyone think of other reasons why snowmobilers don’t see them them?

  18. avatar Sam says:

    Sometimes I feel they only way we gain victory against poor land management practices with with MONEY and LAWYERS. If we can persuade more hunters to donate to these causes then we have better chance of letting a judge make environmental decisions, unfortunately.

  19. avatar marsha says:

    If the first photo of the cow in the muddy ravine is really one of the cows that were put there to graze, then it’s obvious it’s starving (whether it was like that before or had been there awhile). Whoever owns this cow and obviously just wants to dump there whereever and let them starve. This poor cow is definitely not going to survive if a predator sees it. The cattle owner should be ashamed. It doesn’t deserve to be there with no care.

  20. avatar marsha says:

    Forgot to add a comment. If the rancher can’t afford to take care of his animals, then he is “using” the Government’s land to put money in his pocket and being inhumane to his cattle. Someone “WAKE UP” there in the Federal Government PLEASE!

    • avatar john says:

      solar industry can’t sustain itself but gets hundred of millions, now in to the bilions of YOUR money, give themselves raises as they walk out the door, then go eat lunch at the white house,, but I see no outrage at that..

  21. avatar Sam says:

    It might be possible to get a Secretary of the Interior who will reduce grazing pressure on a case by case or in localized areas, but to have one who takes a extremely firm position on public welfare grazing, I just dont ever see that happening.
    That’s why we have money, lawyers, and scientific evidence. Yea!

  22. avatar Sam says:

    One thing for sure, if we continue to have yrs of dry hot weather there is going to be a huge battle for natural resources like water, timber, and more grazing on public lands.

  23. avatar Salle says:

    Heads up Everybody…

    This discussion thread has received some important attention and we, who object to Gregiore’s possible appointment, should participate in this…

    The Wildlife News which reported that WA Gov. Gregoire is being considered as Interior Sec. Salazar’s replacement http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/11/30/governor-gregoires-troubling-livestock-legacy-3/ We reached over 6000 people with that Facebook post, and every single comment, message and email we received as a result expressed utter outrage.

    In response, Wolfwatcher authored a Whitehouse.gov petition to take the voice of ‘we the people’ directly to the White House. It is found at – http://wh.gov/57qO

    It must get an initial 150 signatures to become publicly searchable. If this petition reaches a required 25,000 signatures, the White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. Here is our chance to achieve a common goal! If we don’t reach the required number of signatures, the petition expires and our voice is muted. Even more troubling, the future of our natural heritage – its beauty and resources – will be at serious risk. PLEASE SHARE so that our voice is heard for the wild ones.

    And kudos to WolfWatcher for initiating this petition!!!

    • avatar Sam says:

      I’LL SIGN IT!!!

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Thanks to Salle and to Wolfwatcher! Another potential cabinet member that might be pretty brown on conservation is Susan Rice, potential Secretary of State.

        I won’t comment on the Libya embassy attack issue Republicans are yelling about. That seems to be a partisan issue, but the real issue, in my mind, is that Rice holds a lot of stock in TransCanada, the tar sands pipeline people. The Secretary of State will make the decision on whether to allow that terrible project to go forward in the United States.

        Of course she could divest herself of the stock, but what does even holding it say about her values?

        • avatar Salle says:

          Hey Ralph,
          That was the big question that came screaming into my mind when I read about that. How could she even be considered if that’s where her values are? Of course, you have to wonder who else has invested in that ugly-demon-nightmare-smlimey-mess-from-hell.

  24. avatar Louise Kane says:

    Salle thanks for posting,
    I think that some of the moderators can speak to the issue better than I, but apparanetly there was some indication that Grjivala is not interested. It may be time to think second choice.

  25. avatar KL says:

    Not only is she anti wolf and pro corporate rancher but she is also pro Coal Exports. Please do sign the petition to the whitehouse to say NO appointments for gregoire. She has turned into a lapdog for corporate interests.

    • avatar Jim says:

      Yeah,I listened to her interview about that question, and she was obviously trying to avoid it. It was obvious she would definatly go for the coal ports.

  26. avatar Stephanie says:

    Why the hell people want to bump of wolves is beyond me.
    It’s a bloody Holocaust.
    Kill off the wolves…kill of the human race.
    Take out a link in the chain…bye-bye humans.
    Bite your nose to spite your face.

    Stupid is as stupid does.
    This is all so completely pitiful.
    Ignorance& apathy will kill of the human race, as well.

    A great being has said….” Despite Human Ignorance, Nature Endures”.
    Heaven help us all.

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Quote

‎"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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