Stopping growth in Teton County, Idaho

No one will surprised to learn that growth on the Idaho side of the Tetons is out-of-control.

The linked article by Pacific Northwest political observer Randy Stapilus about enactment of a 6-month growth moratorium in Teton County is interesting here because people keep saying we need to subsidize the ranchers. We need to let them run amuck with their livestock so they won’t sub-divide, but the article makes it clear those against growth management are the ranchers, who want to subdivide because it’s their retirement. New comers are often bad-mouthed, but newcomers are the ones with the idea an area can be kept intact as it grows. It’s the ranchers who will ruin the community to help themselves. I hardly blame them for wanting to retire, but the solution is the national grazing buyout which gives them retirement money, but lets them keep the ranch itself.

Stapilus writes: “The discussion was fired up — definitely some very pragmatic and concerned new comers were pitted against some of the most pissed off ranchers I’ve ever seen.”







  1. Wolfen Avatar

    Ralph, you could not resist on thrashing and degrading the rancher on this thread after reading a two or three paragraph summary of the town meeting. I am totally amazed that you put so much faith and trust in newspaper articles. And I am sure that their was much more than just the bad rap you give the ranchers though you just had to attack them, as always.

    Myself, I would rather have the ranchers around than have all the new subdivisions destroying the beautiful views and wildlife habitat in Teton County. What really surprises me Ralph is that you state that you are all for wildlife yet in your opening part to this thread it goes to show that you are no more respectful of the beautiful valley that Teton County is and less in favor for more wildlife, as you state on other threads.

    You really can not say you are for improving the wildlife habitat and having more wildlife yet in favor of subdivisions, even over cattle ranches. Ranches provide more wildlife habitat than subdivisions will anyday.

    You are the one who says the ranchers will ruin the community to help themselves yet by your thoughts you are ruining wildlife habitat by removing ranches in favor of wildlife. You can not have it both ways.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    You don’t seem to perceive what wrote.

    I didn’t degrade any one rancher, but simply said this shows the fallacy in the view that ranchers should be subsidized to protect open space.

    Ranchers are the ones who want to sell out to the subdividers and Stapilus’ blog makes it pretty clear.

    If folks want to resist sprawl, they should join the Western Watersheds Project, which wants to see ranchers bought out (voluntarily), making it so they don’t have to subdivide to retire.

  3. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    Ralph, in addition to what you have said… there are people who buyout these ranches to sell off and develop themselves or to developers as a full time job. They make offers to them they can’t refuse. Because they have the money they even can purchase the BLM and state lands around them. Western Watersheds could really save two birds with one stone.

  4. Wolfen Avatar

    There is no fallacy in the fact that ranchers want to protect open spaces. By the way, most of the ranchers in Teton vallley who are holding out to selling to the subdivisions are private land ranchers and not the public land grazing permittes you allude to.
    Is there anything wrong with holding out on a bid or legitimate business venture to get top dollar? This is what the ranchers are doing. You seem to forget that ranchers do not have a company 401-k, medical benefit, or retirement pland by which a company matches contributing funds. Any retirement funds or medical expenses are paid fully by the rancher as he is sole owner. So I see no reason why they cannot and should not hold off for top dollar.

    Ralph, wildlife even live on these ranches and often find protection there.

    At least, by holding out until they get the offer they want there will be more wildlife around in Teton valley and less human growth. This is contrary to your statement that those against growth management are the ranchers which is totally ludicrous and a straw man’s statement.

    Dollar for dollar, the rancher would much rather sell out to another rancher than sell out to subdivisions.

  5. Alan Gregory Avatar

    I’ve given to WWP before. I’ll be sending them another donation this weekend. I only wish there was an organization like WWP here in Pennsyvlania to fight for the state’s meager public lands.

  6. Todd Ringler Avatar
    Todd Ringler

    There is no getting around that the ranching community is extremely conflicted. Part of the community wants to “save the ranching tradition” and part of wants to allow individual farmers the right to do with their land as they see fit.

    The two views are mutually contradictory. To promote the well being of the community, individuals generally have to give up personal rights. The ranching community is not willing to ask its ranchers to give up anything, as a result the community is slowly disappearing.

    Once one ranches sells out, all the other ranches in the vicinity are valued based on development potential instead of agricultural potential. There is really only one endgame to that sequence.

    The reality of the matter is that conservationists want to preserve the ranches more than the ranching community. Sorry to say, but it is true.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I think that is very insightful. I have thought similarly, To wit, I have believed that the least public-spirited (or the rancher who cares the least about others in his or her occupation), holds the key to their continued existence. That’s one reason why it’s shaky.

  8. Wolfen Avatar


    I have lived in a ranching community for over 20-years and can tell you that your statements are only partially true. What about you? Ranchers want and will protect the ranching community more than conservationist. Conservationist will destroy the ranching community and his way of life.

    All things set aside, you whom call yourselves conservationists, wolf advocates, environmentalists or whatever and claim to be against growth management such as Teton Vallley are hypocrites. And I will explain why below.

    First, you all have and will continue to drive the cattle rancher out of business. You have a very good start with joining forces with these groups like the WWP. And you have only compounded this by favoiring the introduction of the wolf back to the western states which does affect the cattle rancher. And all the while you have been doing all you can to get them off of public lands at all costs. Let alone that the cattle ranches have and will do more economically for Idaho that the introduction of the wolf to Idaho ever will.

    In return, Ralph and the likes then complain and point out that the ranchers are the ones against growth management. How can this be when the rancher is hanging on the longest to his land and trying to sell his land for top dollar when he could sell it for much less then growth would start immediately.

    To top it all off, you so called conservationists who are the ones who drove the rancher out of business in the first place as I described about then turn around and state that the rancher is the one against growth management. How can this be as you folks have done and will do all you can to drive him out of business. As such he hardly has a choice but to sell out to subdivisions yet you folks are the ones who forced him to do so. Ralph can kick me off or do whatever but you who believe this rational are nothing more than hypocrites.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    They only have themselves to blame. It is not a sustainable operation ecological or economically, or politically, despite having lot of political muscle.

    As I said above the most selfish rancher determines the fate of the other when it comes to development issues.

    If they supported county planning that would keep ranching intact, then the first to sell would not determine the fate of the rest.

    If they more progressive in the state legislatures, they would have retirement plans other than selling the ranch. However, in general (I can think of exceptions) ranchers team up with the reactionary right in the legislatures who think the government should provide no social services to the young, the sick, the injured, and those who were so thoughtless as to grow old.

  10. be Avatar

    wolfen – conservationists are the straw-men. if your beloved ranchers, who run into conservationists, did ONE thing –


    conservationists would have no grounds to litigate or stand on.

    Help your ranching friends out Wolfen – let them know that if they spent the same amount of time calling their reps about the obscenities of allowing globalization, corporate mononoply of commodity & investment chains, etc. they may have a slight chance at solvency — otherwise you’re —-ing in the wind.

    simplot loves that you folk blame enviros and wolves for the consequences of your lack of market sense…

    Ralph hits it on the head again – ranchers et al have a vastly disproportionate amount of power politically – state and federally – at least relative to the rest of us… it’s how they’ve been suckling the public treasury’s teet for as long –

    start using that hyper-enfranchised organization/political-power against the smothering big businesses, toward socially and legally administrated stewardship of the land, and with the interests of the public at large in mind, and you may find that the good ranchers out there that you describe have a chance…

  11. Wolfen Avatar

    Like I have said, you are all hypocrites! All you can do is blame the rancher for everything in life….degragation of public lands, poor fishing, less wildlife, less wolves, global warming caused by cattle which is a crock proved by scientists, and as you all seem to be disillusioned and blinded to believe they are against growth management. Ralph is completely out of line while be and others just follow in his tracks.

    As I have said before, if you folks would treat ranchers with respect, even though you dislike their practices, you might get some empathy or win over some “converts” but when you charge ahead full steam and run over them your just pissing them off and not gaining any ground.

    I’m not a rancher and I have not really been for or against the wolves…..just neutral. I have tried to listen and reason to both sides of the wolf restoration issue. At least I have recognized that the ranching industry does have problems when they graze their cattle on public lands. I aslo recognized that where I am at there is well over 3-million acres of public land grazing and by a large part, grazing practices have improved over the last 20-years. Kudos to the BLM, FS and rancher for making this happen.

    However, you folks fail to recognize anything good the rancher has done and will not give credit at all, unless it is to one of your conservation groups. You only recognized the problem and forge ahead with tunnel vision failing to recognize anything good done. When you folks accuse ranchers of destroying EVERYTHING in life without trying to find a common ground with them but instead piss them off I can see why you folks are not well liked. When you blame one organization or entity for EVERYTHING gone wrong in life then I know (this I learned in college years ago) for a fact that you folks are not thinking rationally and are strictly doing this mainly for a political reason…….wolf habitat and nothing else.

    Ralph, I learned years ago while attending ISU in a psychology class that those wilth mental problems tend to blame everythiing on single organizations….whether it be a religion, political party, or ranchers. Hey, I think I am onto something here with the wolf lovers!!!

    After all my comments, I guess I just feel like taking out my frustrations on a wolf. I think you folks have just ‘converted’ me over to the side of the rancher.

  12. Wolfen Avatar

    Oh! BE. I also said this before. You whine, bitch and moan then get the laws changed if you want better practices.

    Remember you hypoctites… pay your taxes to the very government who makes the rules and regulations yet you blame the rancher. Blame the government you pay your taxes too. And if you h ave not noticed. RANCHERS DO ABIDE BY THE LAW OF THE LAND. Prove to me where they do not abide by the law. I want to see if you have any justification by law! If they did not they would be fined or kicked off. Last I saw none of them have been kicked off. Where have you been all these years…….sleeping!

    Maybe you failed to read all the stories of recent malfeasance in the Department of Interior. The employees know that they are not being allowed to enforce the law, and they frequently leak important information to conservation groups. That’s one reason why they win court victory after court victory Webmaster.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    This page is about all wildlife, not just wolves. Wolves are emphasized because my writing on the Internet began that way 11 years ago. Stories about wolves are read more than other stories on this blog.

    I liked BE’s comments about the ranchers better than my own. To some degree ranchers are oppressed by corporate globalization like the rest of us, but I’ve never seen the ranching community form a coalition with anyone who might want to help (possible exception coalbed methane development).

    Ranchers are not an organization, although some belong to the various state’s “stockgrower” “sheep” or “cattle” organized interest groups.

    I often talk about ranchers too much in general, but then there is a legal problem of naming names of the individual offenders unless you have a legal team to stand behind you.

  14. Wolfen Avatar

    Here’s a very nice letter that ran in last week’s Statesman:

    No, its an incoherent letter.

    “Managing wolves

    Wolves were confirmed in Washington, Idaho and North Dakota before federal reintroduction occurred.

    Except for Idaho, this is not true. The wolves in Idaho were all loners.

    Intelligent creatures, no more would have migrated than the wilderness could support.

    If Idaho can’t support wolves, how come there are 650 of them?

    To recreate a wilderness as it once was, all the do-gooders have overlooked one small fact — 1.4 million human population that did not exist when that wilderness once flourished in Idaho.

    Dense wildlife populations and 1.4- million people are compatable. There is more wildlife in Idaho now that when the state’s population was 200,000.

    During reintroduction talks the feds toyed with the idea of reintroducing the grizzly in more populated areas.

    An excellent idea. Idaho could have as many as Wyoming were it not that Dirk Kempthorne seemed afraid of them.

    So now what? Pack everyone up and move out?

    Idahoans who are scared of the outdoors should pack up and get out, IMO.

    Idaho was not intended to be a wildlife game reserve for those of privilege. The federal government initiated this wolf crisis and shouldn’t be allowed to toss it to Idaho to fix. The feds should be held responsible.

    What in the world is this person proposing?

    Animal rights activists, naturalists, lobbyists, etc., are responsible for torturing the wolf by championing its return. They have condemned the wolf, once again to the horrors of being hunted.

    So who is proposing a wolf hunt, really?

    These groups obviously have no love for the creatures they purport to protect. They are no better than trophy hunters, seeking to surround themselves with living prizes. It is horrible what is happening to the wolf, but it is far more horrible to lower the importance of a human being’s existence.

    All in All, you wolf advocates are to blame for anything or should I say EVERYTHING gone bad for the wolf!

    It’s true that if wolves didn’t exist, they would have no problems. Wolfen, you picked a real fine letter to cite. 😉

  15. Wolfen Avatar

    Yep! That’s your problem Ralph. You tend to place blame where blame is not due as I posted om the above thred. You folks are to blame for problems with wolf introduction. Pass the buck to the rancher so you can get them off public lands all for the betterement of the wolf. You just do not nor cannot accept any conflicts when it comes to wolves and the problems they create. Can You. So do you fit the mental case description above since you blame everything in life on ranching. I sure wish I could think of that ISU professors name who taught the course. You might be best friends!!

  16. Wolfen Avatar

    Ralph….You pay taxes as well as be to the government who enforces the laws. Where is your rational? I hate to call people hypocrites but perhaps you need to read the definition.

    No you don’t. You’ve been doing it all morning, and we don’t even know who you are.

    Ranchers abide by the laws. You pay taxes to the government who makes the laws. If you have a problem with ranchers and their grazing habit then get the laws changed but for pete sake…….do not be a hypocrite!

    Ok, no more posts on this subject. Calm down, and think before you post. Webmaster


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Ralph Maughan