Craig, Otter criticize BLM fire management

Oh boy, these Idaho politicians acted fast to try to define what caused the fires, protect their butts, and try to get a bit extra for their good buddies out there.

It’s quite a scene — the BLM and 1000 of their staff diverted to help fight fires in Idaho caused not by the Clinton Administration, but by years of mis-management by the BLM which has been essentially run by Larry Craig, Dirk Kempthorne, and the good ‘ol boys they put in charge when Bush took over (like recently retired Idaho BLM Director K. Lynn Bennett). Sure is good Idaho’s ex-governor is now Secretary of Interior.

Story by By Erika Bolstad. Mcclatchy Newspapers. Idaho Statesman. Craig, Otter criticize BLM fire management. Senator blames grazing limits for major blazes in Idaho. Kempthorne shifts staff to bulk up firefighting efforts.

This is a good statement by Kempthorne, and I hope they actually do it. “Kempthorne said his department is working to address post-fire restoration needs, including a new program that seeks to replace the invasive cheatgrass with native sagebrush and species such as bluebunch wheat grass and Idaho fescue.”

Notice he is not talking about using non-natives such as crested wheatgrass and similar species, or worse, stuff like forage kochia. Nevertheless, action needs to be taken to see that he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

One great advantage these politicians have is that not many Americans are familiar with things like names and characteristics of rangeland grasses. Unfortunately, too ranchers are unfamiliar with their characteristics as well, other than that they are “feed.”

Update: their real goal is grazing without even the few restrictions present now . . . let’s get the last of the native grass before it’s all cheatgrass. Then we’ll be out of business. Even then we can sell the land to some conservation group and let the deep canyons be designated wilderness (the area is crossed by scores of vertical walled, often deep canyons, which some groups propose for wilderness designation).




  1. kt Avatar

    You hit the nail on the head, Ralph. These big rich Jarbidge ranchers like Brackett have gotten rich from taxpayer-subsidized grazing. And in the Brackett case – also from a large handout of tax dollars in association with the Bombing Range in Owyhee County, where Bert Brackett cows were supposed to be bought out from around 11,000 acres of public lands. Instead, Brackett because of his close ties to Kempthorne who was then a Senator and his long-time champion Senator Larry Craig, got paid nearly a million dollars, including in various cow projects ramrodded down even BLM’s throat, to move his cows off BLM lands so the Air Force could practice bomb it. The allotment was small – only 11,000 acres. But instead of Brackett cows going away, he weaseled his way into grazing more cows than ever in the name of “fire suppression” on those same Juniper Butte lands.Trouble is, there have been recent fires (last year) on those very lands where fire supposed to be “suppressed” by Brackett bovines.

    Bottom line: Bracket and Simplot want lawless grazing – at OUR expense.


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