Politicized IDFG: Official gets demoted for "a number of factors"

The message to employees is clear at Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) – when it comes to development projects on public lands that threaten wildlife – keep your mouth shut.

David Parrish, Magic Valley regional supervisor for IDFG former Magic Valley regional supervisor for IDFG, has a problem – a political problem.  Parrish took a demotion after writing a Letter to the Editor suggesting that the China Mountain windfarm project south of Twin Falls “will have negative repercussions on Idaho’s wildlife” responding to the paper’s endorsement of the project and suggesting that they wait until the consequences are understood before making such an endorsement.

Magic Valley Fish and Game supervisor demotedTimes-News

Update  . . .  more August 8. F&G supervisor suddenly demoted. Agency touts speak-with-one-voice policy. By Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Write

Lawmakers call Parrish’s letter about wind farm ‘inappropriate’

What are these “number of factors” which made this the last straw ?

For those that don’t remember, the state politicians behind this political purge have had problems with Parrish in the past.  For example :

Last year, in response to several hunters complaining about the condition of big game habitat in southern Idaho following their visit, Parrish did his job and wrote the Forest Service asking why sheep remained on an allotment :

We’ve received several calls from hunters today regarding bands of sheep grazing in upper Trout Creek (west side of drainage) and the Walstrom Hollows area. All callers have commented that it appears use is excessive – especially in riparian areas.

Talking with our staff, we were under the impression that livestock were suppose to be removed from that area by early October. This is impacting mule deer hunting and it’s an issue we need to discuss prior to next season.

Oops – that note to the Forest Service made its way to the governor within a letter from the sheepman chastising the IDFG – Parrish’s note was this sheepman’s evidence for the department allegedly conspiring with Western Watersheds Project to boot him off the public land allotment :

it is consistent with our experience to believe that IDF&G may be communicating with Western Watersheds Project with the concerted desire and/or intent of having our sheep removed from all or part of our federal lands, although such motivation may be difficult or impossible to prove.

You can imagine Cal Groen getting an unpleasant phone call.

The sheepman at that time was feeling particularly anxious following WWP’s recent victory preventing domestic sheep trailing/grazing on Forest allotments out of the Hell’s Canyon area to protect bighorn sheep – and rightly so – his allotment in Southern Idaho puts diseased domestics right on top of South Hills bighorns.  The governor’s response to the sheepman’s letter kicked off the IDFG’s politicized process of developing the politicized policy of “bighorn slaughter zones” to protect  the fewer than 17 sheepmen in the state who hold any meaningful public allotments.

It looks like there were a “number of factors” contributing to Parrish’s demotion.  Some of those factors include either a willingness – or political foolishness – to point out the obvious impact to Idaho’s wildlife the blades on China Mountain – and the sheep on Trout creek have.  Unfortunately for Parrish – it’s about more than the wellbeing of Idaho’s wildlife and big game – those subjects Parrish kept at the heart of what looks to be a few of his biggest mistakes.  These public lands in his region are among lands that promise a whole lot of profit to some of Idaho’s most powerful political leaders should they be developed – and he works for an IDFG that continues its downward spiral of politicization under the limp noodle leadership of the Commission and the Director.



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  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    I, as a former (admittedly low ranking) IDFG employee, am well aware of how political the department has become. I know of instances where employees would ask others to sign their names to letters to the editor so that they wouldn’t get “outed”. I know of people who were silent on issues that they felt strongly about and I know of people who changed their opinions about certain issues because the party line had changed. I resigned from the Wolf Recovery Foundation Board because of the lack of security provided to state employees for dissenting opinions even though I know of IDFG employees who were active in groups such as SFW, Trout Unlimited, and Ducks Unlimited. You can’t disagree with the cronies or you get canned or demoted.

    I remember the days after Sando was canned (he didn’t quit) for trying to enforce the law.
    It was pretty apparent then that you risked your job by speaking out about anything that went against livestock interests or good buddies of Dirk and Butch.

    It is apparent that many of the employees of IDFG do have great concern for fish and wildlife issues but their opinions are ignored or distorted because of politics. Just look how the IDFG commissioners (political appointees) ignored the recommendations of the biologists in deciding how many wolves should be allowed to be killed and raised that number by 100. Or maybe look at how they have rolled over for livestock’s plan for managing bighorn sheep. It’s all political game management now. I expect they are going to cave on their responsibilities to sage grouse next.

    It’s also apparent that IDFG has lost sight of the public trust doctrine.

    Here’s another example of politics in IDFG. Look at where the last commissioner’s meeting was held (Cabela’s). In response to a letter to IDFG that asked about the motivation behind choosing Cabela’s for the meeting place Idaho Code 67-2342 (4) was quoted. “A governing body shall not hold a meeting at any place where discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age or national origin is practiced”. Do you really believe that PETA, or any other group publicly opposed to hunting and fishing, could hold a meeting there (kinda an issue with the creed part don’t you think)? I doubt it.

    That is the main reason why I have remained anonymous for so long on this board. Now that I work for Western Watersheds Project (since mid-July) I still want to remain anonymous for my own reasons but that will likely change. It’s time to give ’em hell.

  2. kt Avatar

    This is another indication that the Farm Bureau runs Butch Otter’s sorry Idaho.

    You sure can be darn sure that the ranchers named in the letter (Bert Brackett, and Scott Bedke) played a VERY big role in this.

    These ranchers have been chafing at the bit to get any and all Fish and Game scalps – and Brackett in particular to get Parrish’s. Parrish’s predecessor Nellis would actually write letters expressing serious concerns about the damage Brackett, Simplot and other cattle were doing to public land. (Most of the > one million acre Jarbidge BLM land is grazed by various Bracketts, Bracketts-by-marriage and Simplot operations, including cattle controlled by Butch Otter’s divorced wife Gay Simplot).

    Parrish too would write letters to BLM expressing concerns about the damage being done to sage-grouse, antelope and other habitat in the Jarbidge.

    THIS, in Butch Otter’s Game Department, is NOT allowed.

    And the Bedke mentioned here. The Bedke clan of the Goose Creek and Oakley area was involved in the incident with Don Oman of the Forest Service in the 1990s. They’re renowned abusers of public land. Just last year, even the lame Bush BLM rounded up and impounded one of the Bedke relative’s cows because they were in long-term trespass.

    There is so much that could be written about the political nepotism and corruption in Idaho right now. WHERE are investigative reporters (or any reporters) willing to dig into this all?????

  3. natehobbs Avatar

    So much for free speech.

  4. Concerned Avatar

    I hope the employee gets PEER involved.

  5. TPageCO Avatar

    Sadly, this problem is not unique to Idaho. Ask any retired game official from Colorado or Montana or probably any other western state, and they’ll likely tell you the same things.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Had I not been a tenured professor, I would have been fired after about a year or two. Instead I had a 36 year career.

    Its’ too bad more Americans don’t have real freedom of speech, or Idaho in particular.

  7. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    KT asked..”where are the investigative reporters who are willing to dig into these stories?
    I think a background check by Lee Enterprizes or whoever else owns these newspapers eliminates any “free thinker”from employment. For instance, here in Montana, you just don’t read articles in local newspapers that are critical of the livestock industry. Guess that’s why we deem blogs such as this as being so valuable.
    Real investigative reporters would be run out of these 3 states. The rest just sell their souls to special interests.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    “A one-voice policy?” In other words all Fish and Game employees are to become a bunch of clones, parroting the line of the governor and his buddies, the state legislators and financial cronies.

    . . . and the newspapers don’t bother to dig for the truth. I guess that makes just about any blog a relatively good source of news.

  9. Jon Way Avatar

    Here in Massachusetts (supposedly liberal and free thinking) I have been a vocal critic of how they (like all other states) cater to hunters and adamantly condemmed their hunting plan for eastern coyotes (really coywolves)… I waited over a year to get a renewed permit despite having 15 peer reviewed publications on the subject. Meanwhile the same agency issues unlimited hunting “permits” through various places like K-Mart for $30. If I wasn’t working with other colleagues I would’ve sued them big time… Oh yeah, and I went to the governor 2 times and that finally got them to give us the damn research permit. yet they base their management plans on “sound science” – which in effect is “sound politics” for them…

  10. Alan Avatar

    Things haven’t changed much in Idaho since I was a high schooler in Pocatello and student at Idaho State University. Politics still reigns and doing the right thing is shunted aside to make way for the politicians and their conies. Sam thing here in Pennsylvania, where a “game” commission (not “wildlife” agency) caters to those in power, not those whose without a public voice.

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Brian Ertz