Ranchers say they are being squeezed out on Bighorn National Forest

This came from the Billings Gazette and was republished today in Casper Star Tribune. Ranchers say they are being squeezed.

It is true the Western Watersheds Project is trying to establish the rule of law on the Bighorn National Forest, and if you have have read the posts of Robert Hoskins about the defective nature of democracy in Wyoming (run as fiefdom by the livestock and mineral industry), one way of having your influence felt is to donate to the Western Watersheds Project.







  1. JB Avatar

    This caught my eye:

    “Bighorn Forest Supervisor Bill Bass said the industry generally does a much better job with range management than it did decades ago…[h]e encouraged ranchers to work with legislators to draft laws that protected grazing on Forest Service land.”

    I don’t think ranchers need any encouragement to “work with legislators.” Perhaps more importantly, I don’t think its appropriate for ONE LOCAL INTEREST to dominate the use of our NATIONAL forests.

    How ironic that we allow domestic sheep to graze in the “Bighorn National Forest.” Perhaps we should change the name to “Domestic Sheep Regional Grazing Allotment?” Nah, not nearly catchy enough.

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Here’s the latest example of how ranchers work with Wyoming legislators to protect grazing on federal land.

    Proposed Wyoming House Bill 004 would prohibit state agencies from holding federal grazing permits. With a little knowledge of Wyoming legislative code language, this translates to a prohibition on the Wyoming Game & Fish Department from holding federal grazing leases that came with base property (ranches) the Department legally purchased as wildlife winter range–the Wildlife Habitat Management Areas, one of which, the East Fork about which I have written in the past, is twice the size of the National Elk Refuge and is in my view the Crown Jewel of winter range complexes in the lower 48.

    G&F owns slightly under half a million acres of strategically located winter range thoughout the state.

    The bill would require any such permits to be relinquished to the feds for reallocation to livestock grazing, and would also prohibit G&F from negotiating with the BLM over the use of the permits for wildlife purposes.

    Once again, Wyoming’s livestock industry has proven itself to be fundamentally despicable and unworthy of survival.

    These ranches have all been bought with hunter dollars, either through license fees paid directly to the G&F Fund or with federal Pittman-Robertson funds, which come from excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition, with the intent of dedicating their use to wildlife. In short, the bill would steal winter range from wildlife that hunters paid for–and of course, won’t be compensated for their loss–and further impair the ability of the G&F Department to manage habitat without interference from ranchers.

    This is all deliberate, of course.

    Oh, by the way, it appears that this bill grew out of the greed of some individual ranchers for those federal grazing permits.

    This is pretty common. Not a legislative session goes by in Wyoming without the Ag industry looking for another handout, another subsidy, or a new law that gives it more control over wildlife and the G&F Department.

    Collaboration and consensus, anyone?

  3. kt Avatar

    Robert –

    I have been trying to find what all has been going in Wyoming as supposed “mitigation” for turning much of the state into an oil well pad — in relalion to trying to understand just how much sagebrush pygmy rabbit and sage grouse habitat has been, and is in the process of being, destroyed.

    It turns out most of the Wyoming activity seems to be responding to oil and gas fragmentation of habitat by imposing even MORE fragmentation through burning, hacking, mowing and Tebuthiuroning (herbicide) sagebrush and aspen and other vegetation – to promote cow forage.

    All the recent studies on energy development show that the small “avoidance” areas and other rinky dink actions supposed to “protect” grouse do not (as everyone knew they would not)- and the populations are crashing. [I do note here, though, that Wyoming Game and Fish claims all is ok in resisting ESA listing].

    BUT the point I am getting at is: I will be sure to forward a link to your post to the folks who are working on getting sage grouse listed under the ESA. First, we have Wyoming Game acting primarily to fragment more wildlife habitat as “mitigation” for oil gas and CBM, and now on top of that we have the Cowboy and Woolgrower legislature trying to thwart any removal of livestock from any lands that the state might acquire as “mitigation” – if it ever decided to do any “mitigation” beyond spraying and hacking more sagebrush ….


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