BLM is not responsible for the Milford Flat Fire

Some Utah officials blamed the BLM for the huge Milford Flat Fire in central Utah for not allowing enough grazing, but the Grand Junction Sentinel has it right — if anything, the blame is in the other direction. Overgrazing led to the huge infestation of cheat grass (which can only be grazed a few weeks in April and goes to seed even when it is grazed hard).







  1. kt Avatar

    And alarmingly, cheatgrass is adapting to grow at higher and higher elevations, and moving into zones of cattle disturbance on Forest and BLM lands.

    If we do not stop grazing disturbance to all sagebrush communities, and increasingly all juniper and pinyon communities, as well as lower elevation Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, successive cheatgrass-fueled fires will result in conversion of these critical sage grouse and other wildlife habitats to brown wastelands.

    Just look at what is happening right now with the Tongue Fire in Owyhee County —

    That fire is ripping and roaring across the landscape – in sagebrush and juniper where cattle-trampled understories have become are increasingly clogged with seas of cheatgrass …

    Just 10 years ago, there was only limited cheatgrass in much of the Red Canyon, Red Basin and Tongue area, but now with cattle-caused site drying and desertification – coupled with Global Warming — cheatgrass has become rampant in many places.

    Continuing to graze these arid western lands is like throwing kerosene on a raging blaze … same effect – a likely firestorm.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan