BLM approves $23M to restore ID, NV land charred by Murphy range fire

Money is coming to “rehabilitate” the vast acreage burned by the Murphy fire. Unfortunately, it will not all be native seed and they want to build a lot of “temporary” fences. These temporary fences turn out almost always to be permanent to the detriment of wildlife.

Story in the Times News. BLM approves $23M to restore ID, NV land charred by the Murphy fire. By John Miller.

This blog and the WWP blog have covered the Murphy Fire extensively. There are also very good photos of area burned on the web site of the Western Watersheds Project.

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Headwaters News had a quote from the story by John Miller as their quote of the day:

Quote of the day:

“Fencing of any kind interferes with wildlife migration and can be fatal to sage grouse.”

Jon Marvel, director of the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project, on his group’s objection to BLM funds being used to replace fences burned by wildfires.
– Twin Falls Times News (AP)




  1. begreen Avatar

    if after 3 years the seed restoration efforts fail, the plan immediately reintroduces livestock. this not good considering the GAO’s assesment of BLM’s restoration efforts. monitoring is being appropriated for 2 years ~ these are shrubsteppe communities ~ it’s arid ~ it can take decades to mature…

    blm inflates the likelihood of rehabilitative success with regard to seeds. it also claims a ‘100%’ success rate for fencing… hah !

  2. mikarooni Avatar

    One of the politicians, from Utah I believe, was urging them to forget about native plants and reseed it with kocia. Is that going to happen? Fences can be ripped out; we’ve done it in MT and, if they’re not removed or repaired, time will eventually rot them out; but, a deliberately and systematically induced infestation of a nonnative plant, now that can be self-perpetuating and truly permanent.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Forage kochia is just awful — wholesale replacement of sagebrush steppe, even though the sagebrush may be degraded by livestock and burning, with a alien shrub.

    It’s way of letting ranchers permanently grab the public lands for livestock alone. Wildlife will eat it, but it is a way of extended the grazing into the winter in the high desert.

    Get rid of the cows, not the sagebrush.

  4. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Ralph said “Get rid of the cows, not the sagebrush.”

    Amen, brother.

    Privately owned cattle have no business on AMERICA’S public lands. Keep ’em on your own private land. Need to move ’em off to grow hay? Don’t move ’em to AMERICA’S public lands. All grazing allotments in the arid west should be allowed to expire, in my opinion. Actually, the CHIEF of grazing, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., once told me that a forest supervisor could “immediately, without cause, cancel any and all grazing allotments on his or her forest.” Of course, welfare ranchers would immediately sue.

    Jon Marvel, of Western Watersheds Project, is making history. I hope someone is documenting his actions because he’ll go down in history as forever changing the face of grazing in the west. Keep up the good work, Jon.

    And Ralph, thank you for hosting this blog. You, too, keep up the good work…!

  5. Jay Avatar

    I’ll second that Ralph…I’ve spent many a day toting the sprayer around my property battling that horrid stuff. Absolutely useless…

  6. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    I hope all of those here who oppose livestock on public lands don’t eat beef or use wool or eat lamb; because if it weren’t for public lands grazing, the price of beef would be much higher, we wouldn’t have any sheep whatsoever, fires would be out of control making the Murphy complex look like a backyard barbeque, and all of the ranches which currently use public lands for grazing would be turned into housing tracts; meaning we wouldn’t have anywhere near as much wildlife. Oh, and let’s not forget, the pressure to eliminate wolves would be much higher!

    Livestock grazing has a purpose. No, it isn’t pretty always. In fact, its quite easy to be against it just because of asthetics. But that is shortsighted thinking in a big and very harmful way.

    I spent the last 5 days on a field trip for one of my range classes. What I noticed was that we are making tremendous strides to undo some of the damage done by grazing in the past; and to prevent further damage. Enormous effors are being undertaken on many fronts. We have altered the landscape; but in doing so, we have made it a landscape which must continue to be grazed in order to control weeds that were introduced not only through grazing and other livestock activities, but also through farming – growing the food we ate to settle this country. Weeds that were spread not only through the disturbance created by livestock, but also by our attempts to control fire, and also by the effects we have had on the climate of the planet.

    We can never go back to how things were. We must deal with what we have, and livestock grazing is a viable and important management tool that also provides for local economies, and keeps that beef in your freezer.

    My personal feelings towards cows on the public land, especially the land where I buried my beloved malamute today, are similar to many of yours who don’t like livestock. But through my education, and through paying close attention to the issue and all aspects of it; rather than just the aesthetics, I have learned that livestock are important.

    The real problem still continues to be management. Just yesterday, I was pondering having some Senator attach a rider to the next budget that stipulates that unless BLM has adequate funding to ensure proper management of grazing, that allotments not be used where funding is inadequate. This would be a great tool to ensure that livestock grazing is properly managed, and would mean that livestock producers themselves would lobby for adequate funding. Right now, many producers take advantage of the fact that BLM is grossly underfunded and overgraze and misuse our public lands. This one thing, above all else, is why we have problems with grazing on public lands.

    Please, don’t take the same path as those whom you oppose: the path of ignorance of all of the facts and aspects of an issue. The Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition is famous for this. Don’t let yourself use their same tools to dupe the public into thinking grazing is 100% bad. It isn’t. Mismanaged grazing is.


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