Idaho's Governor Otter, other governors declare war on cheatgrass

Otter, other governors declare war on cheatgrass. They want 500 volunteers to help collect native seeds, so threatened areas can be replanted. Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker.

Controlling cheatgrass is absolutely critical. If they don’t have enough native seed, they need to encourage the production of native grass and forbs for seed as an agricultural crop. This could be a new agricultural activity for these states and one relatively benign.

The dangers are that the cheatgrass fire cycle is already too advanced, and, probably more likely, is that the objectives will always be in danger for being changed into cow welfare rather than wildfire reduction — planting the wrong species (including exotics and cultivars), grazing the new growth too early, keeping cattle on areas that will always be unsuitable for cattle grazing, building fences that hinder or stop wildlife migration.

Cattle grazing could disappear on much of this cheatgrass country with no macroeconomic impact. In fact, it is already much reduced because of the unsuitability of cheatgrass as forage except for the short period before it starts to develop seeds.

Photo: cheatgrass monoculture



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  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Getting rid of cows is a necessary prerequisite for getting rid of cheatgrass.

  2. Buffaloed Avatar

    I hope they don’t decide to plant other non-native grasses just for cattle.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    They will.

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    this is where the land-grants will be working overdrive on the alchemy of “fuel removal”.

  5. Layton Avatar

    Lots of bitching and moaning about what “they” are doing or not doing and about how “they” aren’t doing it right. Then there’s finger pointing (ad nauseum) about how “they” are keeping cows on the range.

    What would happen if some of this spirit got translated into getting off the computer and getting sagebrush seed??

    Before you even ask —- yes, I have.


  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Actually, much of my off computer spirit is directed toward getting cows off public lands, which gives greater strategic bang for the buck.

  7. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the best way to ensure sagebrush/native seed is to get livestock off public lands thereby ensuring native seeds’ prevalence and vigor – contiguous seed-banks. and yes, i too spend “off computer” time engaged in the pursuit.

  8. Layton Avatar

    To each his own I guess — maybe that’s why when I go out on some of the seed gathering, winter browse planting, wildlife study expeditions that I go on in the winter , the only people that I see are those nasty consumptive guys/gals — you know the ones they call hunters/fishermen.

    All the “other” folk are spending their “off computer” time in pursuit of getting cows off the range —- yep, I get it. That must be where they are when it’s time to open the wallets too!!

    Sorry, must be a bad hair day. 8^(


  9. JB Avatar


    Research indicates that, in recent years, activism has taken on new forms (See Inglehart and Welzel’s (2005) Modernization, cultural change, and democracy : the human development sequence). More and more people choose to donate to organizations, write letters to congressman, and generally, participate from home (i.e. over the internet) rather than in person. These people are just as likely to open their wallets, they just choose to give their money to different organizations–specifically, those that they feel represent their interests. As people here have different interests than you do (generally, the preservation of carnivores), it shouldn’t not come as a surprise to hear that they give money to organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity, Sinapu, or Defenders of Wildlife, as opposed to the local rod and gun club, or Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (so hard not to say “some”).

    At any rate, your insinuation that they are not doing anything for their cause (in general) and wildlife (specifically) simply doesn’t hold water. You need only look to all of the court battles that these organizations have won that promote the preservation of threatened and endangered species.



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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