Diamond G Ranch agrees to end grazing in part of the Dunoir Valley

Ranch agrees to end grazing near Park. Depredations pushed Diamond G to accept deal on federal land. Ranch agrees to end grazing near park. Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.

This is great news! While it hasn’t been in the news much lately, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this ranch was a hot spot for complaints about wolves. I had written many times about the wisdom of trying to raise cattle in a drainage full of every large predator in North American save jaguar and polar bear.

The Dunoir isn’t really very close to Yellowstone Park (despite the headline). It is adjacent to the Washakie Wilderness.




  1. vicki Avatar

    I think that this article shows that compromise can occur when people want it to. I feel for the folks who have to change their way of life, but I also think making a deal to accomodate the change is a blessing. It would simply be a matter of time before it changed anyhow.
    I don;t think every one who ever owned cattle or ranched is the devil incarnate. I think they are people , just like those of us seeking to preserve the environment, and wildlife. The difference only lies in their goal.
    Now that they will be moving their grazing, I am sure interaction between livestock and predators will decrease. But for how long? Will bears now move toward more cattle?

    I also think the fact that other animals in the area, such as elk, are also being predated upon. It is testimony to the arguement that a predator who has eaten livestock will not decline to eat any other prey. They obviously eat other prey, because 50+ grizzlies couldn’t survive on the number of livestock this ranch reported as a loss.

    Am I also to understand that these folks didn’t sell the land? Rather, they were given money to pay for grazing elsewhere? If so, at what point could they resume grazing in the area the retired? How long will they receive compensation, and how is that money assured?

  2. vicki Avatar

    I also think it’s worth mentioning that the Washakee (sp?) pack is in this specific area, and hasn’t been reported to have eaten every cow on the ranch.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    We need to take this news with a grain of salt; note that cattle will remain on the lower part of the allotment as well as on private land.

    Cattle had already been removed voluntarily from the West and East Forks of the Dunoir. So now we’re paying Steven Gordon money to do what he’s already done voluntarily?

    As a resident of the Upper Country, I am more familiar than most with the Dunoir and the various cattle operations in the Wind River Valley. Diamond G owner Steven Gordon is a very wealthy individual who spends most of his time in Jackson, and who hates wolves–he cowboyed up to 120% when he came West from the East Coast with all his money.

    He doesn’t care much for elk either. The Diamond G essentially blocks a major traditional elk migration route and has been a problem for elk since at least 1927. (That is right, 1927). About ten years ago, the WG&F Dept. spent $58K to build elk proof fencing to keep elk out the Diamond G’s pastures and hay stacks. And at Gordon’s instigation, G&F also instituted an intensive 5 year late season cow calf hunt for the Dunoir segment of the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd. The hunt was quite successful at reducing elk numbers, and then G&F and local outfitters turned around and blamed reduced elk numbers on wolves and bears.

    Yes, I know that the portion of the allotment in the Upper Dunoir–West and East Forks–has now been permanently retired, and that there’ll be no more cows in the Upper Dunoir. That is of some benefit; I’ve noticed that willows are starting to come back to Dundee Meadows and that livestock removal has allowed stream banks to begin to recover. They were already in bad shape from the tie hack days of the 1920s, when Wyoming Tie & Timber floated railroad ties down the West and East Forks of the Dunoir to the Wind River and from there down to Riverton. The cows went in on top of the timber operations and the stream banks never had much of a chance to recover.

    However, I doubt that it will reduce the killing of wolves in the Washakie Pack that prey on livestock because the livestock will still be in the Dunoir, not only on the Diamond G but on the Cross Ranch further down.

    The NWF is making a lot of this allotment retirement, but read the fine print. It is more hype than substance, which is pretty much what you get out of the NWF these days. As I said, the Diamond G had already voluntarily pulled cows out of the Upper Dunoir. Steven Gordon doesn’t need the money, and the most important thing–getting cows out of the Dunoir altogether–was ignored in the deal.

    Segmenting the Upper Dunoir out of the entire Dunoir watershed solves part of the problem, but not all of it.

    All this deal making between private entities does nothing to address the real problem: the West is not ecologically suited for livestock production. Period. All this deal does is move part of the problem (not the whole problem) out of the Dunoir to somewhere else. I don’t call that exactly visionary thinking.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Your interpretation of what happens now that this deal has been reached isn’t correct. We are not dealing with a family owned business that is having to abandon or change their way of life. The Diamond G is still running cows, albeit with changed management goals. These changes happened about 5 years ago.

    The Diamond G is owned by a wealthy lawyer and managed by the Robinetts, who are close to retirement.

    Cattle will remain on the Diamond G, and cattle will still be grazed on the portion of the Forest allotment immediately adjacent (north) to the Diamond G. All the deal does is pay Stephen Gordon, who doesn’t need the money, to do what he had already decided to do–pull cows out of the Upper Dunoir.

    The Diamond G has been using riders to run cows into the lower portion of the allotment each day and bring them back at night. The intensification of cattle management has improved things to a degree.

    But once again, why are subsidizing a wealthy individual to do the right thing? Especially when he’d already done it?


  5. vicki Avatar


    I agree that the problem is not resloved entirely. However, people need to realize it may never be. So what do you do with what you can change?

    Until the day happens when someone provided these folks the same standard of living, free of charge, they will never just walk away with their hats pulled low. Even if someone could do that, this is family tradition and a way of life for some of these people.(Not neccissarily Mr. Gordon) You’ll no sooner get all of them to give up their way of life than you’d get every Christian in America to stop buying Christmas trees.

    What we can do is be thankful and gracious, when we get any progress. We will never undo all the damage we’ve caused to the area. But creating an astmosphere where people feel less defensive will be more helpful in fostering change.

    I would also wonder if the NWF backed the deal, are there any measures in place to remove the elk fences? What will they now do to ensure the entegrity of the land and it’s wildlife?

    I’d also venture a guess that the majority of people who have ranched in the west for the last 100+years would say you are wrong about it being “suited” for ranching. That point would never be taken seriously by people who have made their living ranching there for decades and generations. We’d be better off sticking to things we know to be less disputable, and less inflammatory.

    You may think that just because this man has a lot of money he should hand over his property. However, he has a legal right, no matter how little he needs it, to be compensated for his land. You can blame it on Capitalism. Unless you want to move to Russia, that is a fact you need to learn to live with.

    I will take a partial solution over none at all, any day. You can’t move forward if you don’t take a step into the right direction. And you won’t pull anyone into the future with you, if all you do is make them hang onto the past by pissing them off.

    Deals between private entities seem to be the only deals being made, period. So what other reasonable solution do you propose? The good ole government has managed to do much if anything. Litigation takes years. Even when the issues make the ballot, voters seem to over look these issues unless they are in their backyard or their bank account.

    I disagree, this is visionary thinking, because it is thinking that has resulted in some change.

  6. Catbestland Avatar


    I appreciate that you see the Diamond G’s move as a step in the right direction, but Robert is right about the fact that the west simply is not suited for cattle ranching, whether those ranching families admit it or not. Western ecosystems are far too delicate to tolerate damaging effects of the invasive species and no amount of imagining it otherwise by those who have done it for over 100+ years can change that. Those ranchers feel the west is suited for ranching because of the way of living it has afforded them and do not take into consideration the negative impact it has had upon the land and it’s wildlife.

    It is much like the Anti-Bellum South where cotton was king and plantation owners did splendidly off the backs of slave labor. They saw no reason why their way of life should change even though it depended on immoral (albeit legal at the time) exploitation and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. But it did change.

    “Ways of life” are not guaranteed to anyone and those who enjoy them at the expense of our natural resources and wildlife will have to accept the fact that their’s cannot continue. Most of us have had to seek a new way of life at some point. The issue in the west is; Will this “Way of life” that is beneficial to a very few, and destructive to the vast majority’s interest in their public lands and wildlife be tolerated? Maybe for a while, as long as there is cheap beef to be enjoyed. But when beef gets too expensive that no can afford it anyway, and people realize what it has cost them in terms of lost resources and compromised ecosystems, and clean drinking water costs as much as champagne, they will change their minds. The hope is that these people will accept the opinion of experts on the subject now, and make the necessary changes, before it gets to that point. The necessary changes must start with removing cattle from public lands.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Read Rocky Barker’s blog this morning. It is the next post up.

    International forces are increasingly influencing the future of western livestock. If people choose to go that route, subsidizing a way of life, is going to get even more expensive.

  8. SmalltownID Avatar

    The important part about Vicki’s argument is that you WILL NOT end all public land grazing in the west. I also don’t think it is fair to compare ranching to slave labor (in the same breath explain how you want to end their way of life to suit yours) and make broad sweeping statements that western ecosystems are far too delicate to tolerate grazing. Obviously there is a detrimental impact and wildlife would be better off without it in 90% of the timne.

    We do know that these ecosystem’s are much more resilient than we thought even when considered in light of reclamation after mining, etc which change the entire face of the landscape.

    I do appreciate the insight regarding this ranching industry in particular because it is NOT AS pretty of a picture as it appeared to be.

  9. SmalltownID Avatar

    Also, clean drinking water, cheap beef, compromised ecosystems face far greater threats then from the ranching industry.

  10. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    vicki said: “You may think that just because this man has a lot of money he should hand over his property. However, he has a legal right, no matter how little he needs it, to be compensated for his land. You can blame it on Capitalism. Unless you want to move to Russia, that is a fact you need to learn to live with.”

    vicki, the land was not his. It is OURS, as Americans. We’re talking about a grazing allotment/permit on the Shoshone National Forest, which belongs to ALL Americans, including Americans that never set foot on the Shoshone.

    Grazing permits are not rights; no livestock producer has a right to graze his/her livestock on America’s public lands. Grazing permits are a privilege, issued by the responsible government entity. And the permit/privilege can be revoked, at any time, with or without cause.

    “So what other reasonable solution do you propose?

    Good question. Check this (Multiple-Use Conflict Resolution Act):


    SmalltownID said: “The important part about Vicki’s argument is that you WILL NOT end all public land grazing in the west.”

    Thanks for the challenge…!

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  11. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Are grazing permits rights? I agree with the notion that grazing leases on public land are a privilege, not a right, but haven’t the courts sided with ranchers the other way? I think that when a ranch with 1640 acres of deeded land and 16,400 acres of grazing allotments goes up for sale, the courts have ruled that, in essense, those grazing allotments are the rancher’s land. Of course ranchers in AZ an other states have fought tooth and nail so that non-ranchers can’t even bid on grazing allotments that come up for lease. It’s all legal mumbo-jumbo to me, but I think it’s fair to say that for all practical purposes, ranchers do own and have a legal right to the public land they lease. I hope I’m wrong about this.

  12. vicki Avatar

    Mack and Catbestland,
    I am on your side guys, I just see a different approach as a better route to getting to the same goal.

    I honestly think that cattle can be ranched to enough capacity to meet America’s consumption of cattle on ranches that are privately owned. But I also think that if the rancher has paid for the right to land, he actually has a right to it. If you change that, you change the foundation of this country, which was shaped by people who were enterprizing and wanted to have what they earned, by their own sweat. I know there is some variation on that take of it, but the fact still remains… the LAW of this land gives rights to people who pay to use public lands (however miniscual the amount), public or not.

    To say the land is ours, not his, is a fact. But we as American’s, have voted in politicians and laws that govern what it is used for… and we let him pay to use it.
    That is like being a landlord, and throwing out your tennant because you want to use the apartment for a pool hall. You have just as much of an obligation to honor your lease as the tennant does.

    I’d be all for it if we passed laws to stop the renewal of public land leases. I’d rather walk through a field of wild flowers than a field of bull crap any day.

    By the way, look back, I actually said you would not stop cattle ranching in the west, not public land grazing. I will give you that I don’t think you’ll stop public land grazing anytime in the near future. But I also think it is possible, in the long term, and support the effort.

    I agree, public land is for everyone, but it was legally leased. So the person who paid for the USE of the land does have some rights as well.

    Don’t get me wrong gents, I would rather have the ecosystem restored to it’s original state (or our version of that.) I just don’t think that telling other people their existence and lifestyle is wrong will get us anywhere. We are spending BILLIONS of dollars right now to do the very same thing in Iraq. It is fruitless.

    You were right, grazing permits are not rights, but the do grant the permit holder rights. This man sold his grazing rights, so as ugly as his story is, that was as much of a happy ending as we could have expected right now.

    I also don’t put ranching in the same light as slavery. That is as bad as playing the race card. I find it a cheap arguement. I won’t further acknowledge it.

    The west was settled by ranchers, farmers, miners and trappers. Today that is a taboo crowd to hang out with, but they had no knowledge of the damage they were doing. But they were are forefathers. Native Americans gave back to the land. Settlers stripped it. I believe we carry the burden of restoring what damage they did. Others may see that they owe them the debt of carrying on a legacy. It’s all in one’s person belief system.

    You won’t get anyone to change their beliefs if all you do is make them hate you. You won’t change a darn thing until you change enough people’s belief to one similar to your own.

    I always appreciate your willingness to provide some suggestion about what to do. Thanks for the link. You are the type of brainstorming problem-solver who can and will change the world.


  13. Brian Ertz Avatar

    vicki says:

    You can blame it on Capitalism. Unless you want to move to Russia, that is a fact you need to learn to live with.

    and :

    the foundation of this country, which was shaped by people who were enterprizing and wanted to have what they earned, by their own sweat.

    John Locke says:

    For it would be a direct contradiction, for anyone, to enter into society with others for the securing and regulating of property: and yet to suppose his land, whose property is to be regulated by the laws of society, should be exempt from the jurisdiction of that government to which he himself the proprietor of land, is a subject …

    … Whoever therefore, from thenceforth, by inheritance, purchase, permission, or otherwise enjoys any part of the land so annexed to, and under the government of that commonwealth, must take it with the condition it is under; that is, of submitting it to the government of the commonwealth.

    i make this point because it seems to me that this purist rendition of free-market capitalism ABOVE ALL ELSE is just not as true as purported in this country, of our founders, or of the original thinkers who laid the foundation for liberal society. there has always been controversy in this regard. it’s never as simple as ‘love it or leave it’ … and Mack’s note that it’s public land makes this particularly pertinent ~ especially when you consider the compounding fact that even if pure capitalism is granted, the commercial USE of this public resource is such an egregious blemish upon the very ideals of ‘free’-market capitalism. it’s subsidy ~ that’s anti-capitalism/free-market !

    vicki, i certainly respect your regard for the permit, but i would remind you that those permits are contingent on law, as you have mentioned yourself. what is also true is that we have also passed many laws which run contrary to the permits and that there are conflicting accounts of how such (or which) laws are enforced and when. it may be up in the air as to whether the public decides to focus on a particular permit’s legality, but does not have the backing of an administration to generalize that particular application of law (yet). the public is granted the ability to compel the government to enforce the law ~ where it does so can be informed by controversy such as this, even if the particular law producing the desired affect has nothing to do with the particular controversy. there may be far fewer permits that are strictly legal in this sense than we realize, and for sure there is not enough public resource, or willingness to use it from a lot of orgs, to enforce many them in the shadow of this outlaw administration.

    Dave Smith, ranchers do not have the right to their permits for the destructive use of OUR federal public land ~ not a right to one thin dime/AUM. The only legal protection they have for their permits, that I am aware of, is against the government’s arbitrary/capricious take of them. Agency can’t just whip it out from under them bringing them harm without cause. And, someone correct me if i am wrong, usually whoever is motioning for a change must demonstrate harm. A judge takes both claims of harm and decides the balance. The science, established wildlife values, and relative inability of ranchers to demonstrate significant hardship ~ especially this rancher ~ would make it hard to prove that such a decision was without merit. Depends on the judge i suppose. But there is no declared right, and agencies have maintained in the past that they can stop the issue of permits should they wish to do so – at least FS.

    This is why voluntary buy-outs are such a reasonable win-win. They can voluntarily take the money – on their terms !, and do with it as they will, or they can continue to try to run contrary to the tide of the coming political shift, the conditions of natural world and wildlife, the consequences of free-market globalized capitalism, the advances in best science which are more and more describing grazing in unfavorable terms, AND the reality that their kids aren’t sticking around to perpetuate the “custom and culture”.

    SmalltownID said

    The important part about Vicki’s argument is that you WILL NOT end all public land grazing in the west.

    Perhaps you are right SmalltownID that grazing will not be discontinued on every last allotment ~ but you will see this land use descend in priority across Forests and public lands across the west. What we know as welfare ranching today will be ended. If folk want to put on a historical show for tourists daily at 10:30 & 2 with horses, toy guns, plastic rope, and spurs ~ I’m sure they’ll have no problem finding a BLM district office willing to oblige.

    SmalltownID says :

    Also, clean drinking water, cheap beef, compromised ecosystems face far greater threats then from the ranching industry.

    Sierra Club says:

    In the United States, livestock grazing has contributed to the listing of 22 percent of federal threatened and endangered species—almost equal to logging (12 percent) and mining (11 percent) combined. No other human activity in the West is as responsible for the decline or loss of species as is livestock production.

    in addition, the UN Food & Agriculture Organization did a study demonstrating the the production of livestock worldwide contributes more to global warming than does transportation. Check it out (big pdf) Livestock’s Long Shadow. Solutions include intensification of production (sorry anti-feedlot animal rights activists) as wastes can be captured and converted to energy – reducing their warming effect more readily than when the animals are in open pasture.

    And lastly, more and more people are realizing that the best way to secure the most conservation potential against looming threats to the environment is to ensure the vigor and vitality of existing ecosystems now. It’s cheaper and ends up being more effective than active restoration & habitat alteration. as this applies to livestock grazing – the deleterious effects of grazing are often not as conspicuous as other activities — but the ability to see the damage is often not a great indication of the extent of damage – especially in arid/slow-developing ecosystems. removing the stress of livestock grazing from dynamic systems ensures the best chance at preventing these systems from folding like a house of cards when the climate changes.

    all of these things, all of the particulars with regard to this industry’s negative influence over wolves, bighorn sheep, buffalo, pygmy rabbit, sage grouse, fisheries, water-holding potential of watersheds, invasive species introduction and aggravation, water quality issues, air quality issues, forage being robbed wildlife, and entire systems being compromised ~ let alone the negative influence this industry has on our social institutions, the fact that over $500 million in public dime is spent annually ~ with a mere return of around $7 million in grazing fees (2003 figures) …

    SmalltownID, you and I have been having an exchange about how best to confront problems between Livestock & wolf advocates on another thread. perhaps what i am saying is extreme, perhaps it polarizes ~ the idea that a middle ground between anti-wolf & pro-wolf advocates is not promising, but my take is informed by the consideration of all of these things in the aggregate. striking a ‘middle-of-the-road’ deal between ranchers and wolf advocates seems pretty reasonable, but one must be careful not to fall into a very large problem associated with single-species advocacy. that the integrity of the whole gets lost in the compromise of the particular.

    voluntary buy-outs address all of these things. ranchers can buy-out or not, the federal government just ponies up the cash for when/if they’re ready (and in many instances it’s returned in a decade or so in saved administrative costs). if there’s a problem with bighorn sheep in one area ~ the buy-out is there, with wolves in another – the buy-out is there, bison, sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, weeds, etc. etc. etc. — and the money is there even if there’s no issue ~ take the family to Barbados, retire without worry of foreclosure ~ use the money to buy private land – whatever, no strings. this is a compromise that i can get behind for wolves & all wildlife.

  14. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Vicki et al.

    The law specifically states that no compensable property rights inhere in a grazing permit, either on Forest or BLM land. Period. It’s the IRS and banks that treat grazing permits as property. Ranchers use this fact to argue that they do have property rights in the permits. But NO court has agreed; the law is too clear on this point.

    Steven Gordon does not own his grazing permits. They are a privilege.

    The scientific literature is chock full of data, evidence, and arguments that the west in ecologically unsuited for livestock grazing. I highly recommend University of Wyoming Law Professor Debra L. Donahue’s The Western Range Revisited, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, for a succinct exposition of the ecological, economic, political, and cultural reasons to remove livestock from western public lands.

    (Deb’s book so incensed the Stockgrowers that there was a bill introduced in the Wyoming Senate to abolish the UW Law School. Luckily for Deb, she already had tenure, or she would have been toast. Just another delightful tidbit about the ethics of Wyoming’s livestock industry).

    We are under no obligation whatsoever to subsidize peoples’ lifestyles, particularly when those lifestyles are so ecologically, economically, and politically damaging. If people want to run cows in the West, then let them do it without public subsidy. We can start by eliminating publicly funded predator control and subsidized grazing.

    Historically, settlers did in fact know the damage they were doing to land, water, and wildlife. They just didn’t try to do anything about it. Ranchers figured it out the hard way after the devastating winter of 1886-1887 that damn near wiped out the western livestock industry. Theodore Roosevelt himself, who lost 3/4 of his cattle at this North Dakota ranch (now Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Menora ND) thought that the winter had finished the cattle industry.

    A review of western history would show that people were perfectly clear about the damage they were doing to land.

    The NWF didn’t consult me about this deal. It is my understanding that the $58K elk proof fence is coming down. Whether it’s a part of the NWF deal or a separate agreement with G&F, I don’t know. I’m trying to find out.

    I have concluded, after my travels in the Old and New Worlds, and after much conservation experience and thought, that conservation of land, water, and wildlife and agriculture (and civilization in general) are fundamentally incompatible. Unlike most of the people who comment on this blog, I grew up in agriculture in the very rural, Jim Crow South (tobacco, timber, some cattle) and I know it well. If agriculture and conservation were compatible, people should ask themselves, why do we have to go to such extraordinary lengths and almost incomprehensible expense to get farmers and ranchers to do something for the common good–for land and water, and wildlife?


  15. Catbestland Avatar

    I am not comparing ranching to slavery. I am comparing the concept that one is entitled to a way of life because they inherited that way of life and because it has proven to be profitable for them, to the same misguided concept that was observed in the ante-bellum south. It doesn’t matter what the particulars are to that concept, it is still wrong. They are just varying degrees of wrongness. The point is that no one is automatically intitled to a “way of life” just because his ancestors enjoyed it, If that way of life compromises the greater good. In the case of public lands ranching, the greater good i.e. the publics interest in that land and it’s wildlife, is most definitely compromised. The paultry amount paid by ranchers for the use of that land can no longer be considered fair compensation. It never was. No one cares what they do to their own land but public lands ranching must end.

  16. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Dave, grazing permits are definitely not rights; they are permits/privileges.

    This is according to Joel Holtrop, whom I had a conversation with years ago. I believe his title was Deputy Director of Grazing, U.S. Department of Agriculture (both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are agencies of the Dept. of Ag. – I’m sure you’re aware – sorry). He assured me that that the holder of a permit does not have a right to graze; the holder is allowed the privilege to graze as along as he/she/it (corporate) abides by the terms of the agreement.

    You mentioned that when ranches with grazing allotments go up for sale, courts have ruled that, in essence, those allotments are the rancher’s land. What cases are you referring to? I know that ranches are marketed as X acres deeded with X acres in grazing allotments, but no, ranchers do not have title and cannot sell the land as if it were their own.

    Vicki said: “…if the rancher has paid for the right to land, he actually has a right to it.”

    Livestock producers pay for the privilege to graze their livestock on portions of America’s public lands. The privilege can be revoked.

    “You won’t get anyone to change their beliefs if all you do is make them hate you.”

    Agreed. But it’s a two-way street; not that I hate livestock producers or anybody else.

    “Mack, I always appreciate your willingness to provide some suggestion about what to do. Thanks for the link. You are the type of brainstorming problem-solver who can and will change the world.”

    Thank you, Vicki. I’ll take that as a compliment of the highest order…! 🙂

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  17. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Cornell University Law School, U.S. Code Collection, TITLE 43 > CHAPTER 8A > SUBCHAPTER I > § 315b, Grazing permits; fees; vested water rights; permits not to create right in land:

    “So far as consistent with the purposes and provisions of this subchapter, grazing privileges recognized and acknowledged shall be adequately safeguarded, but the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a permit pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter shall not create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.”


    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  18. vicki Avatar

    You are quite welcome.
    I don’t hate cattlemen either. I just think that the time of ranging public lands is needing a dignified end.

    Okay, I see the point. I conceed that you are correct that the greater good is the better cause. I just think that, considering all these many years later, slavery still exists in this world. Since we know that is wrong, and haven’t abolished it entirely, it may be a while before we end grazing public lands too. I just hope it happens faster than the previous.

    In a perfect world we’d be talking about the old environmental injustices while sipping something warm, on the front porch of a remote green cabin, warmed entirely by solar energy. I dream of that day.

    Would you not agree though, getting these type of ranches to reliquish their leases is a positive? 150,000 dollars is a small price tag when you weigh how much management of predators depredating their cattle would be. Or even if you weigh it in terms of how much enjoyment and envirnmental benifits will come just from the above mentioned acres?

    (Mack, I checked out your wild life watchers page, I think you’d pull more attention in if you had some photos. Also, you might want to make an email for you really obvious when entering the sight. You should look up some wildlife sactuaries/ rescue organizations and see if they’d pass the link on to their members or through their web-sites too. I am personally going to send it to afriend in Hollywood. Her son is presently doing some public service stuff with a well known producer. Maybe she could put a bug in some one’s ear. I just thought I’d put in an average joe’s perspective. Disregard anything you find unhelpful.)

  19. Maska Avatar

    Mack, let me gently beg to differ. I believe you’ll find that the BLM, unlike the USFS, is not an agency in the Dept. of Agriculture, but rather is an agency in the Dept. of the Interior.

  20. Catbestland Avatar


    I absolutely agree that getting these ranches to relinquish their grazing permits is a positive thing. I was excited to read the above mentioned case. I take it with guarded optimism though.

  21. vicki Avatar

    You have heart guy. (by the way, thank you for your service to our country.) I don’t know, maybe I was just raised with the belief that if you take money from someone you should honor the agreement made. So if they are over-stepping perhaps they shouldn’t have gotten grazing permits. But that is a fault that is not their own. Legislation need to be changed. That is a fault we are all responsible for, and are obligated to change.

    That is not to say that I believe that GORDON, OR ANYONE ELSE, has more of a right to public lands than the general public. Like you, I don’t think that they do. I just think that drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, isn’t the fastest or best way to deal with the situation.

    The best way would be to play fair, because honor is an important PR tool. Compensate the ranchers who are being displaced(for lack of a better word). Then create laws governing the preservation, not just the use, of all public lands. That is the only way to assure the land is kept and conserved as a public interest. Be specific in the law, define what will be the end point of diminishing the land. What is an intollerable state of conservation needs to be laid out.

    I am not saying that we should let ranchers collect big bucks, just what they paid for leases and permits. There should also be some oragnization in place to help ranchers to relocate their cattle and provide resources for those who will need new income.

    You are quite the eloquent spokesman. I must say, my father the economist says you sound a bit socialistic. Believe it or not, I have been accused of the same thing.

    I think that people who are rich tend forget that they eat cake while others beg for bread. I am not a financialy wealthy person, but I am rich in so many ways. I found my passion in health care and nature. Neither will make me rich. So I empathize with those who struggle to pay the bills. I have little sympathy for those who ranch on public lands, but could afford to live off their bank account interest.

    I will consider all that you have said, though I rarely disagree with you. Again… same goals, different approach.

    I just want to say, to some extent, everyone is entitled to a way of life. The one you lead is of your choosing, wether you inherit millions, or just good morals… you are entitled because you exist…so long as that entitlement is not based on the intentional harming of others.

    I’ll toss this around for a while, as always, I am thanful for the insight….to you both.

  22. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I know the Dunoir watershed extremely well. Cattle grazing has been removed only from the Upper Dunoir, the area legally established in the 1973 Washakie Wilderness Act as the Dunoir Special Management Unit; it is a quasi-legal wilderness area and the conservationists who live here have been pushing for formal legal wilderness status for it for over 40 years–with considerable opposition from the timber industry.

    Cattle will still be in the lower Dunoir part of the Shoshone National Forest as well as on private land to the south, including the Diamond G, and the agreement, as I understand it, will not prevent or prohibit lethal wolf control anywhere in the Dunoir for any reason.

    So this agreement will do nothing to prevent the killing of wolves who get into trouble with livestock in the area, nor will it prevent lethal control of wolves that are deemed to be a threat to elk in the Dunoir.

    The primary immediate benefit of this agreement is that if Steven Gordon sells the Diamond G, the subsequent buyer will not be able to put cattle in the Upper Dunoir (unless the USFS changes its mind about the allotment). That won’t mean such a buyer won’t pressure the USFS to reopen the area to livestock grazing, and with adequate political pull, it might happen. I know of nothing in the various laws that govern the United States Forest Service that would require it to close a grazing allotment permanently under the conditions of this agreement. This is an administrative decision, not a legally binding one. It could be reversed.


  23. vicki Avatar

    I am aware that the wolves can still be lethally managed. I just hope there will be less need without the cattle close by.(though you have pointed out that the cattle in pseudo-jeopardy were already moved.)
    I also know this could all be reversed at any time, I just hope it is still in place when the land is sold.

    I too take the news with guarded optimism.

    FYI, I live miles from the Swift Meatpacking Company. It is a huge and multi-state business. They raise an obscene amount of cattle for slaughter. (Employing many illegal imigrants to do so..big no-no.) The number of cows they slaughter each year could feed the entire country. None of them is grazed at all, that I am aware of… they are pen raised. Trust me, I smell it every time the wind blows in the summer. I also have the pleasure of driving by a nuclear powere plant each day commuting to work. It is inactive. It really makes me think that every small victory is well earned and should be taken as a jewel to place in the crown.

  24. vicki Avatar

    I love the Dubois area. I have considered it an under appreciated natural wonder for many years. I would love for you to email me info about what areas to visit when passing through in June. It would be nice to have an insider’s view point.

  25. Brian Ertz Avatar


    watermelon (plural watermelons)
    3. (derogatory slang) An environmentalist with socialist leanings (from the similarily to the fruit, being green on the outside, and red on the inside).


  26. vicki Avatar

    I will take that discription of a fruit anytime.
    May I ask, what do you do for a living? And where do you live? I have often been curious about what type of people are drawn to this blog. It fascinates me to see how diverse and yet similar the group is.

    The commonality and how it is formed is, in my opinion, the key to making things happen. If you could bottle the first inkling that people have to communicate here, think of what changes could be inspired.

    I’m also wondering if anyone knows, or has read, how many small ranches have leases and permits with in what we consider the GYE? I’d be interested in knowing how many of those ranchers require additional income from employment to make ends meet. Although I believe that these ranchers do consider this a way of life, I also think that the economic factors are huge. If there was a plan in place that would be suitable to help the ranchers who would be left incomeless, we’d be fixing part of the problem. We can’t just say, “don’t let them graze,” and expect a positive response. Some of the ranchers may not need to graze public lands, but those who do will be unemployed and therefore destitude in the current economy.
    So, what could we do for them? How could we help to reloctae and retrain them? (Sadly, it’s almost like placing the American Indian on reservations. It was inevitable due to the path of history, but deplorable in the way it was done.) I think it’s important to let these people retain dignity and their ability to support themselves. (I am not referring to folks like Gordon, who don’t need our assistance to survive. He should be the type who helps these people to transition… monetarily.)

    The “Cowboy Way” is a social honor system. The true cowboy really does live by it. They are bound to stand together. So if the little guy is going to fail, the big guy is honor bound to aid him. If you help the little guy, the big guy will be less resitant. It’s really the same as marines. They will fall upon their swords to save their fellow soldiers.

    I really think that you have to understand the low and middle income guy, they out number the rich by far. Understanding your opponent is the way to find his weakness. Loving your enemy is the way to get the world to see their defeat as socially acceptable.

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    One way you can classify those who operate grazing activities is this: corporate ranchers, traditional ranchers, new ranchers (most of which are “hobby ranchers”).

    In Idaho, the non-corporate ranchers generally rely on outside income to support the grazing (such as a member of a family working in a local doctor’s office, for the Forest Service, etc.).

    In the Greater Yellowstone, I think there are some differences (more of the new ranchers). Maybe someone has some exact figures.

    Here is some data about the real economies of what are often regarded as the most traditional ranching counties in Idaho — Custer and Lemhi Counties.

    The real economy of Custer and Lemhi counties, Idaho. By Louise Wagenknecht (Leadore, Idaho in Lemhi County).

  28. vicki Avatar

    Wow, that is astounding. There is essentially NO industry in Idaho.
    The number of people in those counties is so low. I never realized how small that number was.
    What alternatives does Idaho have for people? Does it offer education of vocational training?
    The @800 out of @7000 seems small, but the percentage of people who would be some how effected is high.(simply because there are so few people at all.)

  29. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    While retiring these allotments may not stop all killing of wolves and/or bears that get into problems, taking cows off land, any land, is a plus. We should look at this from an ecosystem standpoint. The Robbinetts have done A LOT for wolf recovery and are actually responsible ranchers doing what they can to manage the ranch in a sustainable manner–which is their job. You can not fault or blame people for wanting to protect their private property–and they have lost MANY of their dogs, horses, and cows on their private land, not on the grazing allotments. A few of their dogs right on their porch. I think the retiring of this allotment is great news!!

  30. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I most certainly have been looking at this from an ecosystem point of view. I’m thinking in terms of the entire Upper Wind River Watershed, which is the watershed I call home. How have I not been? Perhaps you can explain my ignorance. I have acknowledged that there are some benefits to this deal, but I have also noted that the spin being put on this by Hank Fischer and the NWF has a distinct odor that I don’t care for and it deserves airing.

    All this “deal” accomplishes is formalizing, and paying Steven Gordon for, a decision already made years ago for strictly management reasons. I wonder if the Robinetts will see any of that money. Gordon is not known for his generosity.

    Gordon has had a well-deserved black eye for his anti-wolf actions over the years, and another unfortunate thing this deal accomplishes is to give him an opportunity to whitewash/greenwash himself. He can pump himself up as a true and caring rancher-environmentalist over in Jackson now, when he’s no more either than George Bush is.

    As you note, many of the Robinett’s losses to wolves occurred on private property, not on the Forest. How is this deal going to address that? I don’t see how it does. Cattle will remain on the Diamond G and the lower portion of the Dunoir allotment, livestock will continue to be killed throughout the Dunoir, and Wildlife Services will continue to “intensively” manage the Washakie Pack, which is one of the most heavily controlled packs in Wyoming–a factor, no doubt, in the number of livestock killed by this pack in the first place.

    Wolves have long been accustomed to visiting the Diamond G, as Deb Robinett’s excellent photos of wolves indicate.

    The ecosystem issue is still the presence of cattle in the Dunoir–indeed, the presence of cattle in the entire Wind River Watershed, not to mention Wyoming and the West.


  31. vicki Avatar

    Well should we put all of the cows? you can’t just say move them to the other guy’s area. And like it or not, they are not just going to go away. So then what? Out of the Dnior, but into some place else. Same problem,new area.
    This is great, becuase this ecosystem can be saved. It is a start.
    This problem is so much more than the Dunior. It is Americans, conflict, beliefs. People eat cattle, drink milk. So where do we put them? You won’t manke them all vegetarians, anymore than you could get wolves to be.
    All of this is logistics.
    I’d love cattle to be limited to what we need, and not what we can graze. But no one can tell me where they should be, just where they shouldn’t be. That isn’t really solving anything, just stating the obvious.

  32. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Vicki, cattle produced on public lands is only some 3% of all the cattle produced in America.

    If we could end the grazing of privately owned cattle on America’s public lands, do you think it’s possible the rest of the industry could make up the difference?

    Also, if America’s ate 3% less beef, the difference would be covered.

    Beef with E. Coli – It’s What’s For Dinner

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  33. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Vicki wrote: (Mack, I checked out your wild life watchers page, I think you’d pull more attention in if you had some photos. Also, you might want to make an email for you really obvious when entering the sight. You should look up some wildlife sactuaries/ rescue organizations and see if they’d pass the link on to their members or through their web-sites too. I am personally going to send it to afriend in Hollywood. Her son is presently doing some public service stuff with a well known producer. Maybe she could put a bug in some one’s ear. I just thought I’d put in an average joe’s perspective. Disregard anything you find unhelpful.)

    That Wildlife Watchers page was put up just to introduce the concept; it was never intended to be a finished, polished and useful site.

    Wildlife Watchers is getting closer to operating…! I know I keep saying “we should be operating in just a few weeks” but we’ve had some delays. But I’m going to say it again – we should be operating in a few weeks…!

    Vicki, if your friend’s son and/or the producer could help, that would be fantastic…! We’d like to produce a very clever, informative and interesting video that we could put up on youtube, liveleak, etc. – something that people would want to email to all their friends. The video would refer to our website (to be), of course, and would be a great tool to encourage people to join Wildlife Watchers.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  34. Catbestland Avatar


    One book that I have found that answers all of the questions you ask above is “Welfare Ranching, The Subsidized Destruction of the American West” written by a group of several scientist and conservationists. It’s a real eye opener and will help you to understand the economics as well as the ecology that is at the core of the issues. A great read. It also makes a great coffee table book. It almost asked to picked up and looked at.

  35. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Cat, I second the motion – “Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West” by George Wuerthner and Mollie Matteson is to be highly recommended.

    Ralph, I hope you don’t mind, but here’s a link to Amazon’s offer on the book w/free shipping:

    – – – – –

    That’s fine, Mac. This is a very good book. It’s coffee table format, but a coffee table book with a real twist and lots of information.

  36. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    Just a few questions, with so many other enviro orgs out there, why did you feel a need to start another one? I have read criticism of the enviro movement that basically stated the enviro agenda is very hindered by so many different enviro orgs doing different things.

    Essentially, the point was that so many different messages and orgs confuses the public and causes apathy. Overkill, in other words. I agree with that premise.

    What are you trying to accomplish with your org that another is not doing? Redundancy in the enviro movement is shooting yourself in the foot.

  37. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Smoky Mtn Man

    Not speaking for Mack, but for myself, part of the answer to your question is that far too many enviro/conservation orgs have become schlerotic and bound to the status quo, and have become unable or unwilling to pursue the changes that need to happen if conservation is to be successful. In other words, those organizations have bought into the system, or, to be more cynical, have been bought off by the system. In either case, aggressiveness and a sense of the grass roots is necessary, and you just don’t find much of it anymore.


  38. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    SmokyMtMan, good questions; thanks for asking.

    I agree with everything Robert’s said in his post above.

    “Just a few questions, with so many other enviro orgs out there, why did you feel a need to start another one?”

    Because the existing organizations are not effective enough, in my opinion.

    “I have read criticism of the enviro movement that basically stated the enviro agenda is very hindered by so many different enviro orgs doing different things.
    Essentially, the point was that so many different messages and orgs confuses the public and causes apathy. Overkill, in other words. I agree with that premise.”

    I agree that there are many different messages, confusion and apathy. There’s got to be a better way. I believe Wildlife Watchers will be an “umbrella organization” for many, many wildlife and wildlife habitat issues.

    “What are you trying to accomplish with your org that another is not doing? Redundancy in the enviro movement is shooting yourself in the foot.”

    Okay, here we go; here’s what we’re going to accomplish and I see no redundancy whatsoever in Wildlife Watchers:

    > First off, we’re going to rely on the Public Trust Doctrine, a common law doctrine that says states must manage public resources for the benefit of all their citizens and not just special interest groups, and in doing so, through our membership, we will demand that states adhere to the doctrine. No other group is operating in this manner. So you can see the concept is unique.

    > Wildlife Watchers is pro-hunting and pro-angling, make no mistake about it. But according to the 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Survey, there are more wildlife watchers in this country than hunters and anglers combined: 12.5 million hunters; 30 million anglers and 71.1 million wildlife watchers. Here’s the survey: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/2006_Survey.htm

    > You can see that there is a huge base of Americans who enjoy wildlife watching. This membership base has the potential to be an extremely effective tool for more fairly balanced wildlife management.

    > Wildlife Watchers will be a true grass-roots organization and will not be top heavy with management as are so many our current organizations. Wildlife Watchers will be supportative of its members and state and local organizers. We want local people to meet with each other, organize themselves, identify their issues and bring those issues to their local, state and federal representatives.

    > Wildlife Watchers, the 501(c)(3), will form an associated organization (Wildlife Watcher Political Action?) which will be a 501(c)(4); this organization will have unlimited lobbying ability, at state and federal levels, as well as the ability to support, or not support, political candidates friendly or not friendly to wildlife.

    Wildlife Watchers Mission Statement

    The mission of Wildlife Watchers is to promote fair and balanced management of wildlife by relying on the Public Trust Doctrine. Our goal is to organize wildlife watchers into one powerful voice, while working with state and federal wildlife managers towards developing a system that promotes impartial wildlife management. Wildlife Watchers is pro-hunting and pro-angling. Wildlife Watchers will strive to develop partnerships at the federal, state and local levels to protect wildlife habitat, will help develop new sources of revenue for wildlife management agencies and will encourage and assist state residents to participate effectively in public policy decision-making. Through education of its members, Wildlife Watchers will encourage the ethically and socially responsible enjoyment of wildlife.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  39. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I just finished re-reading David Peterson’s On the Wild Edge and it occurred to me that the hunting community needs leadership. They need a leader who can make ethical hunting into a creed and an honorable way. Hunting will be lost to us if it continues to be a fragmented, marketed and misunderstood sport. Perhaps in the scope of Wildlife Watchers encouragement of ethically and socially responsible enjoyment of wildlife there can be some motivated unity for folks who like to hunt. Perhaps leadership can undo the “it must be OK if Cabellas’ sell it” hunters who have no tradition left to show them how to act in the woods. People who hunt honorably and responsibly must see that they will lose these rights in an ever urbanizing society if they don’t change the way some of there group acts.

  40. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Orion, the Hunter’s Institute is about promoting and carrying on the traditions of ethical hunting.


  41. vicki Avatar

    Okay Mack, You are single handedly getting me to keep Amazon in business. 🙂 Where do you find the time to read so much?

    Yes, it is about 3%. The amount of beef produced in the US exceeds this country’s need by far. I don’t even think the private secter would need to make up for anything. I am not concerned in the slightest about what would happen if public lands weren’t grazed, as far as meeting the supply of beef. I’m just concerned about even more American’s being unemployed in this economy. I have no problem paying an extra dollar for a pound of beef. I do worry about what image we “watermellons” (thanks Brian) will create when these people go to the media about their plight. I would also want to help them find something else to do, because I just think it’s right.

    I have emailed the link to my friend. What will happen is up to her, because I don’t want to pressure her… but she is pretty progressive. (She lives in Hollywood, and drives a Prius… she is also super sweet.)

    Also, have you thought of approaching film schools? Those kids are exceptionally creative and eager to prove themselves. They also come from a more eco-friendly generation.

  42. vicki Avatar

    Thanks for the link, I will look the book up. I hope to get to read some over the next few months. I’ve been working 70+ hours a week, but plan to slow it to a reasonable level soon.
    I will spend a lot of time in North park, Colorado. I have a hunch I will be able to squeeze a book or two in. So if you know of any that might help me be informative on a high school kid level, that’d be great also. I am going to host several dinners for my son’s Environmentalist Club this summer and fall. I may even get them out to do some good enviro deeds.
    Thanks a bunch.

  43. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Linda, I agree with you 100%.

    “…hunters who have no tradition left to show them how to act in the woods.”

    My late father taught me, as a young boy, how to hunt and fish, but more importantly, he taught he to respect “the great outdoors” and how to hunt ethically. I worry about the hunting tradition. Hunting is a link to ancient peoples and we should honor ancient peoples by honoring the link; therein lies the tradition. I worry about the younger generation that’s learning to depend on ORVs and that’s learning it’s more important, in as short a period of time as possible, to kill something than it is to enjoy the overall experience, whether or not an animal is killed.

    “People who hunt honorably and responsibly must see that they will lose these rights in an ever urbanizing society if they don’t change the way some of there group acts.”

    That’s a tough one. How to get less than ethical hunters to elevate themselves while pursuing their outdoor passion…

    Linda, if you volunteered to take on this task, I think I can speak for the rest of the group in saying we’d love to have you on-board.

    Ralph, perhaps we could partner somehow with Orion?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  44. vicki Avatar

    Me too. I grew up hunting and fishing. I was taught to go be the “leave only footprints” code of conduct. I also learned to know the area I was in, love it, and honor it by passing it on. We never mixed alchohol and gun powder. We never took shots unless we were sure we could hit the target in the kill zone, and we always were considerate of private land owners.
    I can say that the majority of my fondest memories about hunting had nothing to do with the kill, and everything to do with the experience.
    Good luck in your endevours. I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

  45. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    Robert Hoskins (forgive me if you are Bob),
    I agree to a point on your return to my comments. However, it is my understanding that the Diamond G sold all of their cows–at least Steve Gordon has sold his cows due to drought and the inability to run a sustainable ranch–a positive move if you ask me. The Robinnetts have a small herd, which they are very diligent about monitoring. They have a receiver and monitor radio-collared wolves in the Washakie Pack and are proactive when wolves are on their property. Steve Gordon deserved limited credit for the true success of the Washakie Pack over the years, but the Robbinetts have done quite successful ranching and really deserve some credit for the LACK of control on the Washakie Pack. Yes, they have been controlled, but in area where likely this pack would have been continually removed (like in the Green River), there has been relatively little control.
    Why does “the deal” have to address private property? There isn’t much more you can do except have your animals fenced in, your dogs in a kennel/run, and monitor the radio-collared wolves. What else do you expect these people to do? Whether or not Steve Gordon is doing this to blow sunshine up his own a**, or to really do the right thing for the land and not have cows seems to me like a moot point–who cares. Why play the “my lifestyle is holier than thou’s” game? Again, let’s celebrate the retiring of allotments–we are all on the “same team” here, truly, it is just a pissing contest, it seems to me.

  46. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Sally Roberts Says:

    . . . . . it is my understanding that the Diamond G sold all of their cows–at least Steve Gordon has sold his cows due to drought and the inability to run a sustainable ranch–a positive move if you ask me.

    If this is so, this buyout appears to be a huge gain to me.

  47. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    Thank you very much for the reply. Your post was thorough and informative. It’s given me much to consider.


  48. vicki Avatar

    I agree. This is great, no matter what Godon’s motives were. You can’t police the other guys morals.
    Two thumbs up to the Robinettes if they are so diligent in their efforts. That places them in a better light in my eyes.
    I am very glad that you have brought this information up. It is just more evidence that we are all just people, and we all have flaws, and good attributes as well.

  49. TallTrent Avatar


    This is the High Country News article on the same subject.

  50. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I’m glad to see that all you people seem to know more about what’s happening and why it’s happening where I live than I do. It puts a new twist on the issue of the value of local knowledge.

    Perhaps you eminently knowledgeable people all can tell me then, if this is such a great deal, why does all the publicity about this deal smell to high heaven? If you look through the HCN link TallTrent has provided, you’d never know that Steven Gordon is richer than Croesus. Here he is whining about how much trouble wolves have been for him and how much trouble this deal is for him to accept, that he feels forced into the agreement and now what is he going to do about trucking his cows out of the watershed–it’s going to cost him a mint. If it’s such a lot of trouble, then why do the deal? As it is right now, Mike Jimenez practically lives on the Diamond G, with WS on call to whack wolves that get into trouble.

    Gordon sure is getting a lot of good publicity on this. It makes me sick.

    Just which of you, with the exception of Ralph, have ever seen the Dunoir? Ever seen the damage cows have done all up and down the watershed between the Wind River and Coffman Butte on the Continental Divide, damage that came on top of the damage done by the tie hacks in the teens and twenties, with their tie drives down the stream to the Wind River, tearing out the banks. Hummocked meadows, broken down stream banks, hoofed over bogs, eradication of willows, the virtual slaughter of the moose population in the lower Dunoir by rancher Ab Cross in the 1960s, from which moose have hardly recovered, with wolves now being blamed for the problem with moose. The real problem for moose in the Dunoir has been rancher and cattle damage to riparian habitat in the entire watershed. This is damage done over the decades.

    No, we don’t hear about that.

    It is certainly true that the Robinetts have managed the place as well as it can be managed, and I appreciate that and their individual efforts at stewardship, but no matter how well managed, it still doesn’t make the Diamond G or the Dunoir suitable for cattle ranching.

    What bothers me most about all this swooning over the deal is that the public narrative continues the tired old story of how much trouble wolves have been for the poor ranchers and about how wolves are forcing ranchers to make changes in their operations. My word, wolves are actually forcing ranchers to adapt. Can’t have that, can we.

    We don’t hear a word about how much trouble the poor ranchers have been for the land, for streams and rivers, and for wildlife over the last century or so. We hear nothing about how the primary benefit of retiring livestock allotments is that we’re getting shitsmeared cows out of the willows, the streams, the marshes, and the sagebrush that they’ve been chewing up for decades.

    It’s all a lie. But of course, even though I live here, according to Sally and Vicki, I must not know what’s going on.

  51. vicki Avatar

    Geez RH,
    Simmer down. No one attacked you.
    You are getting angry at the very people who support the removal of cattle from public lands.
    We are just recognizing what you seem to ignore…this is progress. You are bringing as much attention to Gordon as anyone here has.
    Just because you live close by doesn’t mean you are the only person entitled to an opinion. It most certainly doesn’t mean you are the only person who could be right.
    By the way, we are “THE PUBLIC” in the term “PUBLIC LANDS”, so you aren’t the only one who is concerned about them or has a right to an opinion about the lands.
    I don’t really care how much money Gordon has, IT IS NOT THE POINT. He could be Bill Gates for all I care. The fact still remains, some land will be saved.
    If people like you were the only people involved, we wouldn’t even have that. You are presenting yourself as an all or nothing, my way or the highway, type of guy.
    Nobody responds well to that, unless they are submissive little weaklings with no spines or minds. I don’t know of many ranchers who would fall into that category or politicians.
    Nobody here has said that they want cattle anywhere in the Dunior. SO back up and look at what was said. We (Sally and I) are just acknowledging what has been done by brokering this deal.
    By the way, retiring allotments is exactly what we are happy about. That is EXACTLY what we said was a progressive move.
    You are , in my opinion, acting like a tantrum throwing two year old. Just because everyone doesn’t give you all kinds of attention or agree with your every word doesn’t make them wrong.
    Looking back on your posts, you have managed to oppose everyone who has ever responded to you at some point. Do you ever have a nice thing to say?
    I won’t sling mud with you any longer. You have made some valid points, which I have even recognized previously. But being hateful is not the way to make things happen your way.
    I try to take what lessons I can from the wisdom shared on this blog. I even got some valuable insight from you. I don’t blame the Robinettes of Gordon for every thing that is wrong in the environment or even just the Dunior. This has been in the making for centuries, they weren’t alive then.
    I have been in the area. I may not know it as well as you, but that doesn’t give you the right to judge how much I appreciate it.
    FYI, it is just as much their home as yours.
    I am quite sure the damage done by cows is a lot like the damage they have done in numerous other locations.
    I read both articles, neiher painted Gordon as a nominee for saint. They let him state his opinion, and stated what he did in fact actually agree to do.
    I am an open-minded person. You should try it. You might just make a few friends.

    p.s. I didn’t mean to speak for Sally

  52. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


  53. vicki Avatar

    So sorry, I’ll try to bite my tongue a bit more.

  54. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    Vicki-you spoke what I would say as well. And yes, I have been to the Dunoir numerous times. The Dunoir is beautiful and deserves protecting. But, private property is just that, private, and no one can tell Steve Gordon how to manage his land.
    Bullshit what RH?

  55. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    SmokyMtMan said

    Thank you very much for the reply. Your post was thorough and informative. It’s given me much to consider.


    Smoky, you’re more than welcome.

    Once Wildlife Watchers is up and running, I hope you’ll join us.


  56. vicki Avatar

    I have a question. Since the cattle on leased land cause damage, could the damage they create be sued for? As with a renter who damaged an apartment….
    Has anyone or any entity ever tried to sue? I mean if it is my public land, don’t I have a aright to sue for damages? As some one with interest in the land, couldn’t I sue on my own individual behalf?

  57. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    It seems like it might be more cost effective for the states (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho) to buy grazing allotments and retire them forever, than to spend millions every year “managing” wolves and grizzly bears. After all, most wolf and grizzly bear “management” is really a matter of killing wolves and grizzlies, or live-trapping and relocating wolves and grizzlies, for the benefit of ranchers.

  58. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The “purchase” and retirement of grazing allotments has generally been a private, not a public affair. The Wyoming G&F Department has been involved in a minor way in retiring domestic sheep Forest allotments to open up bighorn sheep and grizzly habitat. Nevertheless, the livestock industry as a whole (Stockgrowers, Woolgrowers, Farm Bureau, and the majority of producers) opposes allotment buyouts and retirements, just as they oppose the purchase of private ranches by the G&F that would be dedicated to wildlife habitat. The only reason the recently enacted Wyoming Wildlife Trust made it through the legislature is because the bill prohibited expenditure of funds from the Trust for the purchase of land as wildlife habitat. So official state policy, which mirrors and reflects livestock industry policy, is neither to purchase land in fee simple for wildlife habitat or spend state money for the retirement of grazing allotments. I can’t speak for how things are in Montana and Idaho.

  59. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    You bring up an interesting point with the lawsuit angle. I am not an attorney so I don’t have an answer. There might be another angle to this as well for some one out there to consider in answering your question. I believe a case can be made for suing the USFS/BLM for not enforcing the environmental protective clauses contained in the permit issued by the agencies. Each of the permits can vary in the specific language related to the care of the land, for example the wolf reintroduction law is specific about the time frame to clean up carrion (dead cows and calves). I have never heard of a case where that provision has been enforced. Most of these allotments get a cursory inspection, maybe once a summer, by a USFS/BLM representative and that’s it.

    Any lawyers listening in?

  60. SmalltownID Avatar


    I have not been able to get in on this discussion but I appreciate your perspective. I think it is exactly what we need to turn the corner…”walking in other people’s shoes” as Jimenez called it. I think we can learn a lot from that statement. It is what you are advocating. I have learned that empathy allows you to cross barriers you never thought you could cross and accomplish things people thought was wishful thinking. Keep it up. THAT is what changes the world.

    It is only my opinion based on experience (experience is a dear, dear teacher but fools learn by nothing else) and I could be wrong in how it plays out for wolves (I will get back to you Brian as soon as I catch up on this hot blog). However, I can guarantee you the situation will not grow more bleak if a few more people take a step out of their comfort zone. That is what Jimenez did.

  61. vicki Avatar

    Thanks SmallTown,
    I wish more people could look beyond what they desire, and see what the world(or just the other guy) NEEDS. Putting people in a situation where they have to “choose or loose” is never great. Giving them a choice at all is better than nothing though. Giving them choices and alternatives is the best solution we could offer.
    I guess we should all be more concerned about the attitudes this will develope in the children effected, because an eight year old today will be your advocate or opposition in a decade or two. A little compassion wouldn’t hurt.
    Malpractice insurance companies have done studies that suggest that doctors who communicate with patients treated erroniously get sued less often. Funny, communication seems simple, but isn’t. Too bad. It is unfortunate that things reach the level we are at. Some say (Chime in Brian) that war is necessary to create change… maybe this is that war between ranchers and environmentalists. But I would hope we’d offer fellow Americans the same aid we provide Iraqis and Afghanis. A chance to rebuild what they had called home.

  62. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design

    I lived in the Dunoir for many years…before Gordon brought East Coast lawyerly to the Valley. I lived there when you would see hundreds of Elk cross the valley a few times in the Fall as they migrated to the refuge in Jackson every winter. I lived there when you could count 13 -15 moose as you drove to the highway in the morning to catch the school bus…I lived there when you could catch trout in the Dunoir and Watkins Lakes….I lived there when the Sandhill Cranes flew in every Spring.

    The human design has destroyed this balance. Dude “ranchers” bringing 15 people to the upper lakes and hauling out a 100 fish (the rule used to be…keep only what you will eat that night – and release the others)

    Someone decided the Wolf was the “golden-child” species and dropped them in like a D Day invasion. The Elk and Moose have been decimated.

    I understand the passion for the Wolf…but not blind passion. The balance in the Dunoir has been tilted by man’s vision of what “should be” … Cattle grazing in the upper Dunoir did no damage – that I ever saw…Someone said Willows are coming back? GMAB!

  63. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    You must not have been paying attention while you were living in the Dunoir. Cattle did significant damage all through the Dunoir, not only preventing streams from rehabilitating themselves after the damage caused by floating ties downstream to the Wind River in the 20s, but also to willow growth all through the Dunoir, particularly in Dundee Meadows.

    Also, elk crossing the Dunoir were headed for winter range on Spring Mountain east of the Dunoir and north of Dubois, up Horse Creek, not toward the National Elk Refuge, which is on the other side of the Continental Divide from the Upper Wind River Valley, to the west.

    I also wonder if you lived in the Dunoir when Ab Cross slaughtered 19 moose and ripped out willows on lower Dunoir Creek in the early 60s to “improve” cattle management. Steve Gordon has nothing on Ab Cross for sheer nastiness.

    Elk and moose in the Dunoir decimated by wolves? Hardly. How do you explain the 5 year elk reduction program that lasted from 1998-2003 and specifically targeted Dunoir cow and calf elk, pursued specifically because Steve Gordon complained about too many elk and was going to sue G&F unless G&F reduced elk numbers in the upper Dunoir? Technically speaking, hunters–of which I am one–have had far more impact on elk numbers in the Dunoir and the Upper Wind River Country than wolves.

    Further, moose are in decline all through the Upper Country, primarily due to drought and poor habitat–decadent willows from lack of regeneration or damaged willows from too many cattle in riparian areas.


  64. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I didn’t think this comment would get by you. 😉

  65. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I try to keep up.

  66. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design


    I am aware of the Mai Lai Moose incident…that’s what turned the Dunoir road from public to private.

    Moose were abundant in the 1970’s and 1980’s all throughout the area – Stony Point to Pinedale, all along the Wind, Snake and Dunoir River banks. The Dunoir was also a virtual Elk-Emporium before the Wolf and Griz projects came along. Hunting did not wipe out the Elk and Moose…nor did Ab Cross…The Dunoir was a sanctuary for the most part because hunters had no easy access.

    I think I am objective about the issues… I do not defend part-time, Jackson Hole hobby ranchers – who need a hat and an identity – more than income… If grazing permits cause real damage or cost the taxpayer a dime …they should be retired….end of story.

    And no, the elk were heading east 2 west…to the refuge…usually after the first couple snows.

    I get the feeling you get most of your information from Amazon.com, the internet or from FOIA requests?

    As far as the Tie hack damage…Yes, some rusty objects can be found if you search hard enough – but most has returned the dust of decomposition….Just like a cow’s hoof print in a bog…or broken willow branch – mother nature has her way over fixing that also.

  67. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I get my information from living here and going out on the land quite frequently, including into the Dunoir, and using my own eyes and intelligence. So your attempt to paint me as an ignorant non-resident fails. I currently live in Crowheart, and have lived in the Upper Country for ten years.

    The point about tie hack damage was to note that such damage to streambanks in the Dunoir, especially the upper Dunoir, could not be repaired by Mother Nature because of the presence of cattle after tie hacking ended in the Dunoir in the late 20s. Since the removal of cattle from the upper Dunoir, Mother Nature can do her work, and is so doing. The change is most evident in Dundee Meadows.

    I’m very knowledgeable about the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd, once known as the Wind River Herd; it’s the herd I hunt. You are referring to what is classified as the Dunoir segment of the Herd. I know of no historical instance of elk coming into the Dunoir that then turned around and went to the Refuge, which is quite a distance to travel. The Dunoir segment winters on Spring Mountain, as described above, and has since at least the 1930s, that is, after the Wind River herd regenerated itself in the 1920s out of the Jackson herd. Can you provide documentation to the contrary?


  68. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design

    >>So your attempt to paint me as an ignorant non-resident fails>>
    No Sir, that was not my intent…you seem well informed- but you also seem to have the need to demonstrate you’re the Alpha-poster here – and everyone better agree with you.
    I also made intelligent observations…I am no scientist, but I can tell you the moose, elk, deer, beaver, cranes, grouse, river otter, rabbit and other species – are much harder to find these days…compared to the pre-wolf Dunoir.
    I wonder why so many ‘conservationists’ and wolf supporters seem to have a “lack” of concern when it comes to the wolf’s food chain? Are these other and sometimes rare species not as important? It’s a classic example of activism overlapping objective conservation…the wolf becomes the golden-child.
    I think some recent developments will demonstrate the true cause in a few seasons…stay tuned!

  69. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I can think of any number of reasons for your observations of reduced wildlife in the Dunoir that are far more likely to be relevant than your determination to blame it all on wolves. In science, correlation is not causation, and quite frankly, climate change and drought are at the top of the list as causes for changes in the Upper Country than wolves.

    Being scientific doesn’t require one to be a scientist. It just requires a willingness to understand things ecologically, not ideologically. Blaming things on wolves is ideological, not scientific.

    I have no interest in arguing with ideologues.


  70. intelligent design Avatar
    intelligent design

    “Being scientific doesn’t require one to be a scientist. It just requires a willingness to understand things ecologically, not ideologically. Blaming things on wolves is ideological, not scientific.”

    And blaming cattle, Swedes and Ab Cross is nothing less than wild-eyed- forthing at the mouth-activism. If I wanted to banter with activists, I would go to the – soon to be – trials of the ELF clowns hiding in Vancouver.

  71. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Enjoy yourself in Vancouver.


  72. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design

    Ahh yes, Alpha – poster job wants the last word…

  73. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Intelligent Design,

    I don’t know so much about the DuNoir, but I do know about that closed road.

    Did that sign ever piss me off!!

    Any comments?

  74. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design

    Yes, it’s a bit over the top…not to mention a legal mess if anyone was actually shot 2x for trespassing! It has been there for many years now… The sign is mostly bark and no bite. I don’t think you would actually be stopped by anyone for driving up there…There are probably 25 land owners including a small subdivision. The sign is more to deter hunters I think…

    One thing is for sure…the Dunoir would not be as prestine if there was a KOA and public access.

  75. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Intelligent Design,

    Yes the Dunoir probably benefits from not having easy access. I always come in over Bonneville Pass, but from there it is a long way to Shoshone Pass unless you cross the tundra.

    The sign though is unnecessarily hostile.

  76. Intelligent Design Avatar
    Intelligent Design

    With your permission Ralph, here is a webcam points up the Dunoir…I wish they would crank it left about 20 degrees…would be even a better view.

    Anyway, let me know if you want to skip that Brooks Lake route and I can get you within a click to the Ramshorn trail…crossing sixmile is kind of a hump but you can even stop by the old Tie hack camp…aka Swede park.

  77. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thank you, ID.

    I was fortunate one time quite a while ago before Gordon bought the Diamond G.

    They allowed me to park at the ranch and walk up the road, then trail into the East Fork and up and over into the South Fork of the Shoshone.

  78. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    Attention all!

    You probably know this already, but the Diamond G is no longer running cows.
    By the way, I grew up on the Diamond G and it amazes me that people have such strong opinions about a ranch they’ve never spent time on. Not to be rude, but you should find something more productive to do than type words that aren’t going to sway anyone’s opinion anyway.

  79. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Please tell us what is going presently at the Diamond G if they are not grazing cattle anymore?

    It is not true that people are unaware of the Diamond G. Two people have commented quite a bit about it. They have personal experience. One says he lives in the Dunoir Valley.

    The Diamond G figures in many news stories about wolves, elk, and grizzly bears. Steve Gordon, who I assume still owns it, has filed a number of lawsuits. You don’t need to have intimate knowledge of the place to discuss the merits of a lawsuit.

  80. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Just because I or others haven’t spent time within the specific property confines of the Diamond G, which used to be the Disney Ranch, and before that the Pickett Ranch, and before that the Clendenning Ranch, doesn’t mean that we don’t know what’s going on in the Dunoir watershed. I myself spend a lot of time in the Upper Dunoir.

    Ralph’s account of Steve Gordon is also correct, as is your comment that the Diamond G is no longer running cows.

    By the way, I have a bit of history about Clendenning. In January 1927, Clendenning slaughtered several hundred elk that were getting into his haystacks. The local paper had stories of Clendenning running truck loads of ammunition up the Dunoir road. I expect the truckloads part of the story is a bit exaggerated. Anyway, local outfitters blamed Clendenning for being lazy, having failed to construct fences that would keep elk out of his haystacks as other ranchers had done. The slaughter created quite a row between ranchers and outfitters/hunters in the Upper Wind River Valley that ended only when plans to move more domestic sheep into the country were announced in April, 1927. You can date efforts to begin protecting and acquiring elk winter range in the Upper Country to these two incident–part of the motive to acquire elk winter range was to keep sheep out of the county and elk out of haystacks.

    Intelligent Design. The Ramshorn Trail? Boy, that’s a challenge. It is spectacular winding around below the Ramshorn. Of course, the FS trails out of Wolf Creek at the end of the Long Creek Road will also get you to the Meadows. I’ve never heard it called Swede Meadows; I’ve always heard Tiehack Meadows.


  81. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    I’m sorry but you certainly DO need to have intimate knowledge of a place to accurately discuss the merits of that particular lawsuit. What happens directly on the ranch is what is in question in the lawsuits you discuss.

    You have an admirable grasp on the history of the ranch! I enjoyed the Clendenning info greatly.

    All in all, I simply wanted to make sure people were aware that the ranch is no longer running cows. Thanks for helping validate this fact.


  82. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    About the sign at the end of the road—It’s really a joke! If you knew the owners of that ranch, you certainly would be aware of this!

  83. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thank you. Norman.

    That needed to be pointed out because I didn’t take it as a joke. I guess I’m too serious. What’s the emoticon for that?

    What is happening then at the Diamond G? Is it ungrazed, or are some other kind of livestock there in the summer?

  84. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    No Problem!

    Not much happening there now. The Robinetts have a few old longhorns they privately own and also some horses. All stay in corrals within a few hundred yards of the ranch headquarters. The rest of the private land is ungrazed all year.

  85. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    Intelligent Design, would you mind sharing your real name? I think I know you!!

  86. Norman Winter Avatar
    Norman Winter

    Cmon! I know you’re not afraid! Hee! Hee!


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