106 117 130 grassroots groups (and growing) from around the country signed a letter to President-elect Obama’s transition team officially endorsing Grijalva for Secretary of the Interior.

Green Groups Galvanize Behind Grijalva For Interior Secretary Press Release – PEER

Read the letter [pdf]

As a decision approaches, the other name heavily floated as among those on Obama’s short-list for the position, Blue-Dog Democrat Mike Thompson, has a record that sheds some light onto previous uncertainty as to how he might lead at Interior.  Of particular interest to among those of us here is Thompson’s past vote rejecting a congressional attempt to prevent federal expeditiures on Wildlife Services lethal predator control.

More history on Dailykos Diary

*Update 12/10: AP shows Grijalva on top of list Name by name, Obama’s Cabinet taking shape, Thompson & John Berry, National Zoo director, former executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also on AP’s list.

*Update 12/9: Source: “Grijalva is Still in the Running” – Roberto Lovato is a blogger featured on Huffington Post and has been among the first to report on rumors concerning the “musical chairs” at Interior.

*Update 12/9: Grijalva gets endorsement of decision-makers from U.S. territories – citing his experience on the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs.  For those of you who don’t know (like me), the Department of Interior holds administrative responsibility of territorial affairs.

*Update 12/8: Daniel Patterson, newly elected State Representative in Arizona and Southwest PEER director, helped organize this letter and is showing the official tally of groups at 130 – check out his blog: Daniel’s News & Views.  Thanks for the letter Daniel, and congratulations on the election – it’s great to see up-and-coming conservationists willing to stick their neck out and win elections.

About The Author

Brian Ertz

97 Responses to Interior Update: Grijalva's support balloons among grassroots groups

  1. Another name has popped up on the radar according to Grist Magazine, Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. From two minutes skimming, he is a Pawnee Indian, a former DOI official, and someone knowledgable on the Indian Trust issues, that have also plagued DOI.

    For the article, see http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/12/8/9157/56886 .

  2. Brian Ertz says:

    Gover would be good as well – Gover served as the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs under Clinton. He gets it.

  3. Maska says:

    I met Gover years ago while I was working on a congressional campaign here in New Mexico. I don’t know him personally, but people I respect say he’s a good guy.

    Either Gover or Grijalva would be much better than Thompson, from the point of view of understanding issues in the West–especially the Southwest.

  4. john weis says:

    “”He [Thompson] also opposed an amendment to ban the act of bear-baiting in national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands.””

    This alone cools any jets I might have had for this winery owner. Bring on Grijalva. Supposed to be this week??

  5. Brian Ertz says:

    john weis,

    the speculation this morning was 36 hours – but it seems like all of this just that… speculation.

  6. Ron Kearns says:

    Support for Grijalva is growing: 130 groups.


    Ron Kearns
    Retired Wildlife Biologist, USFWS

  7. kt says:

    And one of the Blogs says that Thompson is a Safari Club member, to boot. This is the last person we need as Interior Secretary.

    I predict there will be over 150 grassroots groups support Raul Grijalva for Interior Secretary. This is a real movement coalescing around Grijalva. FINALLY, a Democrat that isn’t afraid to stand for something and speak his mind.

    Maybe the problem is that the spineless Dem leadership, the wimps Reid, Pelosi and their ilk along with some of the Establishment Big Green groups, are afraid of someone with environmental principles heading Interior.

  8. john weis says:

    kt, you really think the environmental degradation we have seen in the past 8 years it due to ” spineless Dem leadership, the wimps Reid, Pelosi and their ilk along with some of the Establishment Big Green groups, [that] are afraid of someone with environmental principles heading Interior”””


  9. kt says:

    hey john weis – I am saying that RESISTANCE to Grijalva may well be coming from the Pelosi, Reid, Some Big Green Group Quarters …

    YES I think those folks do not want someone who might rock their boats, as well, to head Interior.

  10. Brian Ertz says:

    from my perspective – this next round of Obama picks will be very indicative. People voted for Obama because of the promise of big ‘c’ “Change” and the candidate rode that huge wave of favorable American sentiment to victory – a profound mandate. Obama thus far has been choosing moderate – one might even say ‘middle-right’ appointments in direct conflict with his promise. He’s been able to do so without a great deal of out-cry from progressives, who really fueled his candidacy with remarkably galvanized support from the get-go, as his people have been promising that the change will come from Obama, he’ll be hands on ensuring change among a group of the able. This may or may not be a reasonable suggestion given the appointments he’s made thus far are in charge of departments high on the agenda – the economy & the war – and it is reasonable to suggest that Obama will be engaged.

    With the environment it is an entirely different question. the DOI, Department of Ag, EPA, etc. are not as high on his agenda. If Obama wants to ensure change here, he will need to appoint capable heads who are able to bring it about without so much of his micro-management. That’s why this next round of appointments will be so indicative – they will shine more light on his true desire for change (or for more of the same) than those appointments that he reasonably suggests he’ll be more involved with.

    This next round of appointments will indicate whether we can count on more of the same, or whether Obama and his transition team are truly committed to their mandate – and his promise of meaningful change. Grijalva is a capable leader who will not be alone in bringing about change at Interior – his appointment will galvanize grass-root support freeing up a movement that has largely been stalled. From what I can tell, the environmental movement enjoys among the most willing and able idealists – and among the most cynical. This cynicism has its roots in the same idealism but results from decades of disappointment and political actors who either brush the issue off – or maintain the capitulatory aversion to controversy that qualifies itself in calls for ‘stacked-deck’ compromise and the millions of acres of degraded landscapes and wildlife populations that those willing table-goers rarely take the time to visit and see the results for themselves.

    I am asking you to Believe, not just in my ability to bring about a real change in Washington, I’m asking you to believe in yours.
    -Barack Obama

    Who believes that Thompson is capable of galvanizing such civic-engagement within the environmental movement (other than potential continued litigation, infighting among conservationists, and disappointment) ? Grijalva has already demonstrated his ability to galvanize grass-root support and inspire over 130 groups believe in their ability to affect meaningful change. More-so than any other potential appointmentee for any other agency, even among those issues that enjoy the most public attention. It’s what we need. It’s what we were promised. It’s what we voted for.

  11. Sarah says:

    KT-I’m with you on your comments on wimpy establishment dems and career-ist DC “enviros” posing a hurdle to Grijalva. Thankfully, they are appearing to be way out numbered.

  12. Mike says:

    ++And one of the Blogs says that Thompson is a Safari Club member, to boot. This is the last person we need as Interior Secretary.++

    Wow. I really hope Obama does not appoint Thompson as head of the Interiorl

  13. Mike says:

    Great post Brian.

  14. I found the following on line as Thompson’s affiliations

    Member, American Legion
    Member, Business and Professional Women’s Association
    Member, Cal Trout
    Member, California Faculty Association
    Member, Ducks Unlimited
    Member, Native Sons of the Golden West
    Member, Sons of Italy
    Member, Redwood Chapter, Vietnam Veterans of America.

    Caucuses/Non-Legislative Committees:
    Member, Blue Dog Coalition
    Member, Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus
    Co-Vice Chair, Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus
    Co-Chair/Co-Founder, Congressional Wine Caucus
    Co-Chair, E-Waste Working Group
    Co-Chair, Military Veterans Caucus
    Member, New Democratic Coalition.

  15. vickif says:

    I hate to be the person who questions things here, but I feel it would be a lot unfair to say that if Obama doesn’t appoint the candidate WE want, he is failing to keep his word about change.The man has already shaken up the very foundation that allowed the Bush administration to place our country in the shit hole state it is in. (I also credit Clinton and a few others before him with the current economic mess, it took a lot of screw up for that.)I think if he appoints Thompson, we may see it as a bad choice, but the rest of society will see it as keeping his word.There are other very important posts still to be announced too, the Ag and EPA spots are also of key importance.Looking at the memberships that Ralph listed above for Thompson, he isn’t the anti-Christ. Keep in mind please, I am not advocating for Thompson, but I will also not allow one decision change the temperment of my mood or hope, for a president that is the biggest advancement we have seen -thus far- for our country. That advancement includes much more than just environmental issues. We cannot hinge our entire approval of our president, or his potential, on one decisoin. That is a bit elitest and hypocritical considering we often find our very selves at odds on this blog. How can we expect one man to meet our every demand or agree with us on every decision, when we cannot always agree ourselves among our peers, let alone among an entire country.Though I am well aware that much of the environmental revenue generated in this country is generated by non-hunters, keep in mind that until now, most conservation funding (I am aware of) is from hunting and fishing industry. It has propelled much of the conservation that has been made possible throughout the last eight years. Some of the above mentioned groups fund those projects.
    If Thompson is chosen, it may help to silence much of the ‘don’t let the greenies take our guns away’ sentiment that we have combated these many years. It will also serve as notice , when we continue to stand united, that we have certain expectations for whom ever is appointed.

    I am very hopeful Grijalva is our guy. The fact that a grassroots movement is underway in his behalf is inspiring, given that is the very movement which Obama was elected upon, it should help him take notice of the true public’s voice. I am all for Grijalva, not because he is a minority, or because he is backed by the league of this or that, but because he is guenuine and has the nads it takes to make a stand and fight for the environment. That is not only green thinking in an environmental sense, but in a monetary one as well.

    Having said that, I support Grijalva, but am not so blind that I cannot see that stomping my feet and screaming about not getting my way hasn’t gooten me anywhere with wolves, with bison, with much. Diplomacy, and making the government work for us is still what our focus should be, no matter who is appointed.

    To behave otherwise will merely reinforce the ideas being promoted by such people as Palin and Gilette and Save Our Elk types, that we want our way, and to hell with reason or anyone else’s wants or needs, there is no satifying us. It polarizes us from the main stream, and that is extremely counter productive.

  16. Sarah says:

    Vickif: We ARE the mainstream! I’m sick of middle of the roaders saying ‘don’t go too far, now, we may piss off the mainstream.” There’s no way in hell I’ll be satisfied with an appointment to the SOI who favors airial gunning of coyotes. And, that’s just a starter. And, why mention Palin and her ilk? Who the in the world takes her seriously? I don’t know where you’re from, but here in the southwest many enviros are also hunters. Grijalva gets it. There’s nothing wrong with expecting anything less than who is the very best for the job. And, middle of the roaders either get out of the way or stand up and do the right thing. Now is not the time for waffling.

  17. Salle says:

    In the debate over Thompson vs Grijalva for Secretary of Interior:

    I honestly feel that we don’t need another hunting/fishing advocate in this position, we need someone with an unbiased perspective. Hunting and fishing organizations flout their conservation lip service as the “we’re the real conservationists” claim but fail to recognize that what they have accomplished is a profiteering continuum based on manipulation and imbalance for profitable “sport”.

    State fish and game agencies “manage” wildlife for the purpose of harvest and little else. They claim that it is the sport hunting and fishing groups that support their work. They, state agencies and sport hunt/fish organizations, also don’t want to lose their romanticized status by recognizing that wildlife watching is more lucrative with regard to regional income than the sport hunting/fishing interests and has been for years now. All this at a great cost to us all, that is, all living beings in the biosphere.

    I submitted the above statement, slightly altered here, to the transition team last week along with other comments that I feel need to be heard.

    Vickif has a point with concern to the insistence that we get what we want but I also feel that we have a need to speak loudly and firmly with regard to “our” choice.

    Many of us have been silenced, blacklisted, or suffered attempts at discrediting (Cheney/Rove style-including in the media) for so long that many of us feel that we need to literally scream bloody murder to be heard at all.

    I am not so interested in being absolutely resolute about my choice as to dismiss the choice of the president-elect. I do feel that he has less than desired knowledge of the interior west’s issues and would like to see someone from the interior west, rather than a winery owner from California in the DOI’s head position, especially one with so many hunt/fish and agriculture connections. California is not part of the interior west and it doesn’t appear that legislators from that state have much knowledge on the way life is here.

    It is imperative that the right policies be implemented by administrators who “get it” no matter who they may be. I think Thompson will not be able to hit the ground running and that he is “poisoned by the kool-aid” with his associations. I do feel that Grijalva will be able to do so, he’s been treading water in the cesspool for a while now and is already “there” which is why I endorse his appointment over any other candidate.

  18. I’ve read in two sources today some perhaps bad news for Grijalva (as well as Thompson), suggesting that everything was wide open. A Washington Post story out today cites a source close to the transition that Grijalva had fallen off the short list, due to “some huccups.” CQ Politics is reporting today that Grijalva and Thompson both raised concerns with the Obama team at a meeting on Sunday.

    Gover apparently is the new name on the street, but apparently no one has told him about it.

    With an announcement due in the next day or two, Interior seems to be up in the air.

  19. Salle says:


  20. john weis says:

    Not sure this says anything too new, but I like Gover’s ponytail. We need more politicians with ponytails.


  21. Jim,

    I read that too. I think the transition team may have been surprised how contentious this stuff is. It might have set them a bit off balance.

    As you may know, I am a political scientist. The politics of public lands is little taught in the universities. I had to carve out a specialty in it. When I retired, two years ago the study of public lands was still mostly restricted to a professor here and there in Western universities.

    I was surprised at this vast, little researched, sea of turmoil. I had expected to see a lot of struggle for economic advantage in this political arena, but the real discovery was that much of this is cultural politics with power structures and mythologies every bit as entrenched as the old segregationist South.

    When I was in my late 20s and early 30s, I thought these public lands issues should be easy to resolve because so little was at stake economically. I was right about the economic stakes, but totally wrong about resolving them. The livestock area is by far the most difficult, the least amenable to politically rationality, and the most reactionary.

  22. kt says:

    You are right, Ralph. Livestock grazing, destroying the West laying waste to water and spreading weeds with every hoof-trample, is indeed the most contentious.

    I have come to the conclusion that it serves miners, loggers, “green” or brown energy developers of every stripe, and entrenched ag. interests who profligately waste and pollute water, to have ranchers as the Frontmen for multiple use/abuse of public land. There are many who may not want a rational resolution to the irrational destruction that is public lands livestock grazing.

    Has anyone heard the new rumors that T. Roosevelt IV is being tossed around as Interior Secretary? He seems really vapid and clueless – and would be a disaster.

    Also – here is the Blog that talks about Thompson’s associations:


  23. Brian Ertz says:


    those stories were published yesterday before the grass-roots weighed in, it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.


    Obama solicited the input of folk. The ‘hunting & fishing community’ are as much among conservationists as those among the Safari Club – the primary difference is that those that are conservation-minded probably weren’t the same group(s) leaning into Thompson to vote against restrictions on import of Polar Bear hides & other imperiled species. Nobody is suggesting that Obama be perfect with regard to his appointments – but stifling one’s opinion about the matter for fear of controversy or for spreading one’s sentiment out among all issues is ridiculous.


    I hope those among the transition team are not so averse to controversy as to stifle change – it’s looking like that may be the case – Rumor-mill: Ted Roosevelt IV has been vetted by the transition team and appears to be among the finalists (very bad) 🙁

  24. Ron Kearns says:

    Kevin Gover–because of his Indian, natural resources, water, and environmental law experiences–is another excellent choice, if Grijalva, for whatever reasons, is not selected.

    The following is an excerpt from Gover’s Curriculum Vitae:

    “Primary fields of practice included federal Indian law, natural resources law, water law, environmental law, housing law, commercial transactions, administrative law, and legislative affairs.”


    Ron Kearns
    USFWS Retired

  25. vicki says:


    I am not suggesting stiffling of any sort, just that we should be thoughtfully opinionated, and hardly think having a calm and resolved approach would be ridiculous. Panic and hostility would raise red flags about our sincerety and reasonability. Though I am certain we have all got great reason to be tired of the current situation, I am simply suggesting that before you can conquere your enemy, you must first learn to understand them. To subdue your enemy, you must learn to persuade his followers, or they regroup against you and you will have unrest for the long term.

    Again, I don’t think Thompson is the right man for the job. But I can see why, after having stated he thought someone from the hunting/fishing scene should be in the position, Obama would appoint someone with that background. Obama promised change, he never promised everyone would like the changes made.

    I see exactly why Grijalva would be a good Sec, I can also see how an ENVIRONMENTALLY AND CONSERVATIONALLY motivated outdoor sports person would be a good choice as well. No Joe Red Neck who wants to catch or shoot fish in a barrel, but someone who desires a guenuine environmental and scientifically based approach to hunting and angling. Does a qualified person with such a background exist? I don’t know. I haven’t seen one presented, but if I did, I might find that person appealing since I hunt and fish.

    Because I hunt and fish, and know balance and appropriate conservation is key to assuring the future of those activities, I find Grijalva a good candidate. The two sides of the issue are not mutually exclusive. There is simply, in my opinion, no better candidate than Grijalva for both the sportsmen and the exclusively conservationist crowds. But my opinion as a hunter/angler may differ from the norm.

    We may have to contend with Thompson, with dents and scratches, though I doubt it. But I do know if we do, pointing fingers at him with accusation and immediate hate will simply serve the opposition by causing a further rift among both sides.

    No matter who lands the job, we have got to move forward in the spirit of compromise, because like or not, those hunters and anglers who fall on the less conservation savvy side of things still have a very profound voice, and voices have proven quite powerful these past few months.

    Why not approach the incoming DOI pick with an optomistic and friendly attitude? You will certainly make the other guys look more unreasonable that way, and you can always win more flies with honey than vinegar.

    More importantly, if it is not Grijalva, and is Grover, what do you think of that possibility? If it is Thompson, what do you say we do about making our desires known? And how would you propose he move forward, and we move forward to promote our agenda?

    If it is Grijalva, I worry people make because lazy in excercising their voice and too easily pacified. Perhaps we would expect so much that we may be over estimating what can actually be accomplished just with this one position? Should we dream big dreams? Or should we make a blue print? Do we offer help. or sit back and watch while some other groups become as enraged as we all have been for eight years and then plot one green take down after another?

    I wonder if we place our expectations too high for the DOI Sec just as it is suggested we are all (Americans in general) doing with Obama? Would we be setting ourselves up for disappointment? Or failure?

    No matter who is appointed, we still have so much work to do.

    You are right, Obama asked for the opinions of folks, but ours are not the only opinions being given. He cannot make us all happy.

  26. There always seem to be two types of people when it comes to appointments and grassroots involvement.

    In 2004, when Kerry was running, I was extremely involved in organizing in the anti-war movement in Washington, DC. Our group, the DC Anti-War Network, never endorsed anyone for political office – in large part because it would compromise our independence as an organization and in part because I doubt there was any consensus on who the group could support.

    Our group, however, did organize protests to both political conventions, protesting the role that both parties had had in supporting the war in Iraq. Indeed, John Kerry, at the time was still a supporter of the war in Iraq.

    Nevertheless, there were members of our group, who may not have been Democrats, were nevertheless on the “anyone but Bush” bandwagon. They saw protesting the DNC as counter-productive to getting rid of the greater evil, Bush.

    One of those members in our group – who did not necessarily oppose going to Boston to protest the DNC – but was very upset that I refused to vote for John Kerry, dropped out of our group soon after Bush’s re-election. He was the sort of person who no doubt would have stayed if Kerry had won because he would have been motivated to hold Kerry accountable. He rightly believed that there was no chance with Bush that he would listen to grassroots opposition; he believed however that there was a chance that the anti-war movement could be effective if Kerry were president.

    On the other hand, most of the people I knew in organizing would not have been there if not because they were motivated by what was wrong in government. I would not have the woman in my life I do now – and therefore my son – if it weren’t for the horrors of the Bush Administration. A lot of people are woken up to the reality of the broken system when the charade is lifted from their eyes.

    I guess my point is ultimately that as far as Grijalva and Interior Secretary goes, we and the 130 groups, are ultimately cheerleaders to someone else’s decision. The influence may mean something, but no one doubts that the power rests with the Obama Administration, that because he has such a diverse and large fundraising base, ironically owes nobody – as I guess Rod Blagojevich found out. Come what may, the less on should be that cheerleading for or against Grijalva is not an effective use of our time – though it’s a fun hobby, like football is on Sundays.

    The truth is that when our team loses, we either get demoralized or more determined not to fail. That’s going to be the case here, but we must keep our eyes on the prize.

    If land politics is indeed governed by the lack of reason, by a landed livestock aristocracy that doesn’t even act rationally or even in its own best interest (a story familiar wherever you are on the globe – whether it’s gentrification or corruption in the cities and government, whether it’s global trade, or on and on), then we must organize to be stronger – and stop pretending. We have to organize – not to make power accountable, but to hold power accountable. That’s easier said than done – and is fraught with its own perils (largest of all not becoming just like what you hate while becoming strong enough to fight what you hate) – but that’s what we must do.

    Grijalva would be nice choice for Obama, but it’s what we choose that’s more important. And, if it’s not more important (for those who think I’ve succumbed to naive idealism) then it’s urgent that we make it more important.

  27. JB says:

    My letter to the Obama transition team:

    Dear Transition Team:

    I am writing to urge President-elect Obama to appoint Rual Grijalva to head the Department of Interior. Recent rumors suggest the transition team is considering Ted Roosevelt IV, a Republican, for the post. Such an appointment would be a disaster. For too long our nation’s greatest treasure–our natural resources–have been exploited under Republican rule. The President-elect won the office of President with the promise of change; to hand this important post back to Republicans now would make a mockery of that promise and alienate environmental groups, over 130 of whom have joined in support of Grijalva, to boot.

    Others cry that we must have a sportsmen for the post. This is a fallacy. The fact is that federal public lands managed by Interior agencies (i.e. BLM, NPS, FWS) are used primarily for non-consumptive recreation, as opposed to hunting. Hunters now represent less than 5% of the U.S. population–nearly all of whom are white males (see: http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2006.pdf); moreover, hunting and fishing are activities controlled by the states, not the federal government. Requiring that the Interior head come from the hook and bullet crowd is a litmus test that defies logic. Another white, male hunter is more of the same. Grijalva is change. Please bring change to the Department of Interior; our natural resources can not afford a continuation of the status quo.

  28. Buffaloed says:

    Here’s a new name:

    “Duluth native Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is on several Washington insiders’ lists of candidates being considered for interior secretary in the Obama administration.”

  29. On paper Roosevelt doesn’t look bad-
    This is from the Wikipedia which has a very small article on him.

    “Roosevelt was the chairman of the League of Conservation Voters and the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. He remains a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History. He is a member of the board of directors of the World Resources Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Wilderness Society. Roosevelt is also a director of the University of Wyoming’s Institute for Environmental and Natural Resources.”

    Of course, a lot of just fair people, who only lend an important name, sit on the boards of many non-profits.

  30. vicki says:


    Okay, you may think we are the main stream, but statistics and voting suggests otherwise.

    Who takes Palin and Save Our Elk seriously? You can’t be serious in your dismissal of the hundreds of thousands of voting Americans. As much as we would like to think otherwise, we are not really main stream. There are many more of those ‘middle of the roaders’. And you not liking them or being tired of them is fine, but extremism rarely yields the desired consequences.

    I never once said I supported aerial gunning of any animal. I do not. But that isn’t what I was talking about.

    I was saying that approaching the issues, much like you just did with me, can tend to get you enemies in a hurry. WHat we need is more support.

    I am very glad you are so passionate, but dismissing everyone who disagrees with you as though their opinions are inconsequential is hypocritical, and I know I don’t like it when people do it to me.

    Call me a Golden Rule follower, but I do unto others as I would have done unto me…until I figure out that they are trying to “screw me with out buying dinner first.” I value everyone’s opinion, because it is likely others share it in part or entirely, and that means their opinions carry weight. To assume otherwise is not only a mistake, but an injustice to say someone else matters less than yours just ‘because we said so’.

    Palin may not be in the forefront of news right now, but rest assured…she got enough positive feed back from voters that she will be political presence in the future.

  31. Brian Ertz says:


    Roosevelt is an ‘absentee’ Welfare Rancher whose ranch is in Montana while he lives in New York. His officially and unofficially expressed positions on public lands grazing, the largest most objectively destructive use of public lands and wildlife in the country, has illustrated the extent to which he has bought into the public-land ranching “culture”. He’s the quintessential apologist whose experience with the groups you list demonstrates that he is among those mostly deeply “captured” this industrial culture. Roosevelt on public land ranching in 2005:

    A good example of this is the “voluntary grazing buyout” proposal. Despite the tag of being “voluntary,” it is widely rejected by the ranching community because it sends the message that public lands grazing is categorically undesirable. The advocates for the buyout program overlook the following:

    * Many of those who depend on public lands grazing are family ranchers such as the four-centuries-old subsistence Hispanic ranchers in America’s Southwest, for whom ranching is of profound cultural, as well as economic, significance.
    * One hundred million acres of prime private home-range lands, key to fisheries health and biodiversity abundance, are tied to federal leases and likely to be sold if the leases are lost.
    * Scientific studies comparing biodiversity on ranches, wildlife refuges and subdivisions found that ranches match the species counts of wildlife refuges (but with fewer invasive weeds) and outperform “ranchettes.”
    * Ranching represents one of the oldest herding cultures on the planet and is part of our cultural diversity and our national strength.
    * Ranchers were the leaders in range reform, hastening the Taylor Grazing Act into passage; most of the damage done to the range happened in the heyday of unregulated grazing at the beginning of the 20th century; and, finally, much of the range, now lacking native grazers, must depend on well-regulated grazing for its health and vitality.

    But, for the sake of this “voluntary grazing buyout” proposal – a highly dubious public program in terms of its ecological benefits and one whose costs are so enormous it is unlikely to ever be funded – environmentalists have generated enormous ill will, again losing much in the way of social capital and trust.

    Many of these claims are categorically untrue. Is this the tune we want to hear from the principle regulator of public-lands ranching take ? During the entire essay Roosevelt plays into the suggestion that rural ranchers are the victims of the green urban elite and that it ought be up to enviros to communicate to them – to understand them – yet, we know the disproportionate power this rural landed-elite holds to this day and we know its consequence to the landscape and wildlife.

  32. Brian Ertz says:


    good luck with your activism and organizing – though, I fail to see how your example of the futility of galvanizing now does not similarly apply to any situation in the future which you might think is ‘worthy’.

  33. Mike says:

    They let reporters into an Obama meeting today(Illinois gov reaction), which I imagine was about the Interior appointment. Al Gore was sitting to the right of Obama, and he appeard to be some sort of environment/public land advisor to Obama. There’s no way Gore gives a green light on Thompson.

  34. Salle says:

    I believe that the meeting with Al Gore was to discuss his energy programs, at least that’s what Gore had said yesterday. No Gore doesn’t want a position, he knows he is more valuable and less inhibited by working on the outside. (as Bill Clinton once said: “I think the white house is the crown jewel of the American penal system.” In some ways, that is true. When you are a public servant, you’re always on camera so to speak.)

    Gore has a great initiative on alternative energy:


    Though I don’t care for any promotion of nuclear and coal energy. There’s no such thing as “clean coal.”
    I think that’s what their conversation was about. As far as I know, Gore endorses Grijalva for DOI.

  35. Thanks for fleshing out Roosevelt, Brian.

    In case anyone misinterprets my posting of the easily accessible information on Thompson, and later on Roosevelt, the purpose is to show what a media person, new to these people, is likely to find with a quick web search.

  36. kt says:

    Yes, Brian – Thank you for this I had never heard of Roosevelt IV until seeing that info you referenced, That was also the last I heard of him. I did not know that he was a public lands welfare HOBBY rancher! One wonders: Just how few public lands permits, and what the acreage is of any permits for welfare cattle and sheep NOT owned these days by hobby ranchers, gold mines, water speculators, and non multi-millionaires …

    Do you know what allotments Mr. Roosevelt grazes his welfare cattle (or sheep?) on? Seems like we all might want to take a site visit, become Interested Publics, etc.

  37. Phlogistician says:

    Mike Thompson would be a disaster at Interior. Pray it doesn’t happen. You can see the type of stuff he voted for in the past (against roadless areas in Tongass, for cougar trophy hunting, for open pit mines, against rail, for bear baiting, for Bush’s “Healthy Forests Initiative”, and on and on):

    Learn more here:


  38. Phlogistician says:

    The speculation is that Obama met with Gore to blunt some of the blog criticism and to “gird our loins” for his next picks… which won’t please us.

    And while I do not know if Thompson is actually a member of Safari Club International, that organization has donated considerably to his campaign (I believe last year they donated more to only one other Rep… Alaska’s Don Young). Oh, and Mike Thompson won their “Legislator of the Year” as well as “Hunting Heritage” awards:


    That should tell you something about where Thompson’s priorities lie!

  39. Buffaloed says:

    This article seems to indicate that there is a lot of support for Grijalva by scientists, DOI employees, and conservation groups but that he has fallen from the short list because of his “strident nature”. Frankly this is what is needed now. Someone without that nature will cower when the going gets tough and the unreasonable ranchers and the like put pressure on him.


    We need to galvanize behind him more now than ever. That the nationals are not publicly endorsing him is a crime. They are just as cowardly and politically worthless as Thompson or Roosevelt will be and that’s exactly who they will get with such behavior. It seems they are more worried about being someone’s friend than about the issues that are important to them.

  40. vickif says:

    My most recent letter to Obama’s site:

    I am writing to urge you and your team to give further consideration to the appointment of Raul Grijalva to the position of DOI Secretary. After reading several articles lately, it appears he has fallen from the short list. This would be a terrible truth as Grijalva is a true leader in saving our planet and developing plans and making them happen.

    I am aware that there is concern that he is not a member of the traditional ‘hook and bullet’ crowd, but as an avid outdoors-women, I enjoy fishing, hiking and my family’s long tradition of hunting. Those hunters who are guenuinein their concern for the quality of the hunt will back Grijalva, as he will provide a chance for an environment that will promote those possibilities.

    I, as someone who enjoys fishing, hiking and hunting, can assure you I do not fear irrational assumptions that a true conservationist will end these things. Rather, I support a candidate who has the courage and fortitude to stand their ground when we have to say “no” to the further destruction of our natural resources.

    I have been camping, hunting, hiking and fishing since I was very small child-many years ago. I do these things with my children, and would like to share these traditions with my grandchildren some day. Without agressive tactics being inacted now, these opportunities will be gone before I have that chance.

    Please, keep Grijalva’s motivated followers working for ‘change’. Make him your pick for DOI. To choose yet another hunt all you can, kill as many as you can, gung-ho type such as Thompson or Roosevelt would be an irrevocable mistake. It would show a lack of a sincere vision for improvement to all those who desire a better enviornment. These mistakes have been made for the last eight years and it is truly time for a change.

    In order for us to financially advance, we have got to put green economics and the environment first, for our children’s children.

  41. vickif says:

    I also attatched a picture of my son holding a fish…so he could see that not all anglers support Thompson or Roossevelt.

  42. john weis says:

    What is the URL for the Obama comment site?

  43. Salle says:

    John W,


    This is where you can comment directly. There is a blog option also but you may want this one instead. the link to the PDF document of recommendations is available there too.


  44. Phlogistician says:

    Yet another possibility?!


    Support for John Berry, the director of the National Zoo and a former assistant secretary at the department, was growing, officials said. Gay and lesbian advocacy groups backing Berry, who is gay, were expected to meet with the transition team in Washington on Wednesday.

    But officials said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and California Rep. Mike Thompson were still in the running to lead the agency, depending on how other positions shake out.

  45. Phlogistician says:

    In emails to change.gov, which everyone SHOULD do if they haven’t already, I think the important thing is to stress that Mike Thompson is NOT the right choice.

    Grijalva may be great, but he may not be on the short list anymore. So we need to express our distaste for Thompson to ensure that the other short list name (him) isn’t chosen “by default”.

  46. kt says:

    Here’s my sense of part f what is UP: The Harry Reid Dems and establishment Big Greens of the world have big plans to butcher public lands with Big Corporate energy projects. Many of them may already have invested in various mega-wind farms proposed to destroy sage-grouse habitat, or giant solar facilities in the Mojave, and the horrendous utility corridor, gas and other pipeline infrastructure that is being proposed to fragment just about every large remaining “open” area.

    They distract us with rocks and ice wilderness – while everything else is planned to be up-for-green-energy-development grabs.

    The plans are to make it smooth sailing for Royal Dutch Shell, RES UK, and their ilk to have Open Season on public lands. What has happened with Oil and Gas in Wyoming and Utah is now proposed with “green” projects in the rest of the arid lands. INSTEAD of pursuing a path of conservation, locally generated energy, roof top solar, etc. – it is all about the same old tired big corporate model being transferred to GREEN energy. And I do not think that Al Gore is at all immune from being part of the same mindset that now seeks to allow continued mega-corporate control and manipulation of energy by a few huge corporations – albeit energy dubbed “green”.

    They don’t want someone with the knowledge and wisdom to say: Maybe it’s time to say: Let’s do “green” energy in a better way -or we will lose what is left of our public lands.

  47. Phlogistician says:

    And yet ANOTHER name:


    Word around town is that Rep. Raúl Grijalva was the front runner, but hit some snags as he was being contemplated for the post. The final decision is likely between him, Rep. Mike Thompson, and possibly David Hayes, who served as deputy secretary at Interior during the Clinton years and is currently working on DOI, EPA, DOE, and USDA transition.

  48. Sarah says:

    KT: amen, amen, and amen. The Big Greens and the DC “enviro” sell outs are the biggest pains in the butts. They give me more headaches than the repubs.

  49. Salle says:

    I think I’m depressed all over again.

  50. Virginia says:

    I thought it was rather curious that the letter listing all of the groups supporting Grijalva did not include the “big” greens sending me letters for donations. I may have to re-evaluate where my money goes.

  51. Salle says:


    Not a bad idea. Many, though not all, of the groups that have nice shiny brochures have become “corporate NGO’s” who spend more on overhead and big salaries than actual “actions”.

    I see that some of them endorse some pretty scary candidates that aren’t really what they would have us believe about them. Others just back some really bad policy choices in agreement with abusers of “the commons”.

    When you look at the job descriptions for many of the ED’s you will find that an established fund-raising track record is near the top of the list if not the only requirement for consideration. I find that a revealing factor.

  52. Brian Ertz says:

    it is odd that the National Greens haven’t endorsed a candidate. i agree with buffaloed that this failure to take a position is irresponsible and in all likelihood, for fear and continued access rather than about advancing conservation principles. i also agree that Raul Grijalva’s integrity and willingness to take a stand is likely a pre-requisite condition of affecting meaningful change at the Department of Interior. The Department is so mangled and “captured” by industry interests (who are willing to scream and fight) that a Secretary unwilling to stand in their whipped-up controversy is likely to stall any meaningful change – is not qualified to lead such a Department. Civil servants need a leader who will go to bat for them if objectivity and sound science are to be restored, because have no doubt that controversy will be stirred up.

    Grijalva !

  53. Virginia says:

    How about a quick lesson on which “green” groups are truly pro-wildlife, pro-environment, pro-active at more than fundraising. As I mentioned before, I feel that Buffalo Field Campaign, Earthjustice and NRDC should be on my list. Can anyone provide a list of which groups would meet the criteria that most of us support? I would appreciate it.

  54. Sarah says:

    Virgina, My advice to you and others who wish to support non profit environmental groups, or any non profit for that matter, is to investigate *local* groups that are working to effect change where you live. They are the ones who know the issues and the people best to do the most effective action and community work. If we all invested locally in our non profits, we could see more effective and sustainable work over the long term. My two cents. Here in Tucson, AZ I give to the Sky Island Alliance and the Rincon chapter of the Sierra Club.

  55. Alan Gregory says:

    This is the plea I read in the fall fund-raising letter I just received from The Rewilding Institute, i.e., give local to make an impact.

  56. My view on year-end donations-

    Of the current national groups actually doing things for wildlife I would put Defenders and NRDC at the top.

    For Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, I would urge giving first to the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) for on-the-ground proven, effective activity. WWP and Defenders and many other groups would be less effective, however, were it not for Earth Justice and Advocates for the West. These green law firms are absolutely essential and need funds.

    Many, many Bush midnight regulations are going to have to be litigated.

    More specialized local groups that merit support are the Buffalo Field Campaign and Footloose.org

    Avoid groups that brag about building bridges to livestock operators and organizations. They might think they have built a bridge from their side, but the other side of the bridge is an illusion. They are probably standing there laughing.

  57. Virginia says:

    Thank you – but, Ralph, isn’t Defenders one of the groups, along with GYC that supported the de-listing plan? Also, can you tell me about Footloose and Advocates for the West? I sent my check to Earth Justice just today. I will include WWP and already took care of BFC. It there were local groups in Cody, other than GYC, I would love to help them out. However, the only group I can help here is the Humane Society, because I am not aware of any wildlife advocacy groups in Cody. Surprised?

  58. Brian Ertz says:


    WWP has an office in Pinedale and covers a great amount of the state.

    In all fairness to Defenders, they were among the parties that litigated the delisting – they were not supportive of the delisting plan though they are one of the primary boasters of “building bridges” to the livestock industry and I still have question about whether the money they grant state Fish & Game Departments is used to collect matching appropriations for Wildlife Services slaughter of wolves – that’d be a ‘bad’ on the state departments either way. I don’t support national groups as my dime isn’t so meaningful – even if there might be a free stuffed animal in it for me – they’re not all that responsive to their members – and I don’t see they much need it as much as local groups anyway. They get much of their dime from large foundations. I think this economy is going to stir things up a lot.

    Advocates for the West is an environmental law-firm in Boise that does really good work in court – they’re partnered with WWP to that affect.

  59. Debra K says:

    Besides the states Ralph mentioned, WWP is also active in CA, OR, WA, UT, AZ and occasionally CO–a very lean organization that has accomplished a tremendous amount of successful work.

  60. Debra K says:

    Oops, left NV off the list, WWP is active there too on BLM and FS public lands.

  61. jerry b says:

    Virginia……FootlooseMontana is a non-profit whose goal is to ban trapping on public lands. Check out their website at…”Footloosemontana.org”……lots of info there.

    Also….WWP rocks!!

  62. Tom Page says:

    I’m glad to see a discussion growing on this blog about conservation giving. It’s a topic that should possibly have it’s own posting.

    It’s interesting to see how differently many of the folks that I usually agree with on this blog view the “success” of conservation organizations. I’ve moved all my contributions away from litigation-based or political advocacy over the years, although I do think groups like WWP and Laird Lucas’ Advocates for the West have been helpful at times. However, even here in liberal Blaine County, there are many folks who think these groups hurt the cause as much as they help.

    The organizations I view to be most successful are those that steer clear of the public policy mudpit (or mostly clear anyhow) and work on physical rangeland and riparian restoration, along with instituting ecologically sound management of private lands. Other important building blocks include water law reform (how ’bout a real instream flow program in Idaho, guys?), grazing buyout programs, incentive-based growth management programs, and state-sponsored funding programs for conservation that are not linked to F&G departments (although they can be a helpful match).

    I’m in agreement with those who give locally and regionally – when I support national groups I direct it to the state chapters. Having worked in conservation for 10 years, THE most effective way to enlist people to your cause is to take them out in the field and show results on the ground. Almost every donor is turned off by the thought of supporting legal fees – a necessary evil in some cases, but still much overused by the green community.

    Ralph, I notice that nearly every group you mention is heavily active in litigation.

    People love to rail against ranchers on this blog…my response is to raise money, go buy a ranch somewhere, and fix it yourself. If enough organizations do this, the critical mass for public land conservation will develop on its own accord.

  63. I have to disagree with my friend, Brian to some degree about Defenders.

    Although Defenders believed that ranchers would be willing to learn pro-active ways of heading off wolf-livestock conflict, they have learned over a 13 year period that this does not work except in limited cases, especially with the state governments, the livestock associations, and, increasingly, Wildlife Service poisoning the well.

    Last year at the Chico, MT wolf conference they reported on a survey they had done about the effectiveness of compensation funds for livestock losses in for the Mexican wolf. They found the compensation to be unpopular with ranchers and that livestock associations put pressure on individual ranchers not to accept the money offered.

    Defenders is also aware that Wildlife Services will try to grab any money they can for lethal control. They refused to give them money and talked government officials in Blaine County out of doing it.

    I know from the GYC controversy that Defenders was very upset when that organization suddenly decided that Wyoming’s state wolf plan was acceptable and Defenders helped throw the GYC out of the wolf coalition.

    I just wanted to add this because I have sometimes been critical of what they have done, but they have learned about the wolf issue like the rest of us by getting knocked around, lied too, and probably even more than the rest by direct threats.

  64. Tom,

    We have to use the tools that fit the job.

    During the Bush Administration, it was all defense. Litigation was absolutely necessary, and I think those groups who thought it was still like the Clinton Administration were less than helpful.

    Now with the Obama Administration things change again, tactics must change too. However, for the first year scores of lawsuits will have to be filed to rid the country of Bush’s midnight regulations. While Congress will directly take out some of them in January, most will probably have to be killed through litigation over their lack of legality. That takes quite a bit of money.

  65. Brian Ertz says:


    that’s odd – I’ve heard of the study but haven’t been able to find it online – do you have a link ? I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree about whether or not they’re actively involved in supporting the Livestock illusion :
    On the Ground: Helping Ranchers, Keeping WolvesDefenders Magazine – Fall 2008 :

    If a sheep or cattle ranch becomes unprofitable, ranchers can be left with few options other than selling their land—and watching it get chopped up into 20-acre parcels. With open space dwindling in the northern Rockies, keeping big ranches going is crucial—as long as the ranch managers are willing to be responsible stewards of the area’s wildlife.

    “Big ranches can be used as habitat corridors that allow wolves and other wildlife like elk and deer to get from one place to another,” says Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies field representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “By making it easier for ranchers to live with wolves, we make sure those ranches, those corridors, remain intact. And maintaining open spaces for wolves and other wildlife is vital for their future in the Rockies.”

    [emphasis mine]

    Do your part – Donate now to keep ranchers in business the effective way ? – for the wildlife’s sake ?

  66. Salle says:

    Brian, usually the presentations made at Chico are listed in the program and they often have links to online versions, if they are available. Of course, you have to have saved your copy of the program…

  67. Ron Kearns says:

    I donate to 8 major conservation NGOs, I am a Life Member of 4, and I financially support other smaller conservation groups. The 3 groups that have helped me the most with issues regarding my former employer—the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service— and that agency’s collusion with the Arizona Game and Fish Dept., are the Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and Wilderness Watch.

    PEER and WW have been particularly helpful and money donated to those NGOs yields dividends through effective environmental actions.

    The corruption within the USFWS is deep and I look forward to an honest, ethical FWS Director. Leadership positions are critical. Good and bad leaders definitely influence the workforce over which they preside, from the U.S presidency to local governmental managers.

    Ron Kearns
    Retired Wildlife Biologist, USFWS

  68. Brian Ertz says:

    Salle, I couldn’t find a link – and last I heard it wasn’t going to be made public. Another question – if they know it’s not effective – why are they still compensating as of last month for both “confirmed” and “probable” ?

  69. Brian,

    Thanks for finding that. I had assumed they’d stopped compensating completely given the negative chatter in the organization about the inability to make progress.

    There is a real problem here — the perception, probably correct, that the public likes to hear about working problems out. You can raise money doing that.

    Take back my recommendations for them in tier one.
    – – – – – –
    Tom Page,

    You are right that WWP has a negative reputation among a fair number of people. Telling BLM and Forest Service bureaucrats what they are (and especially telling a governor that) doesn’t make you popular.

  70. Dave Jones says:

    If you are interested in restoring wolves to the Southern Rockies, and/or in turning around the Mexican wolf program through the use of smart, well-targeted litigation, consider checking out & supporting WildEarth Guardians. WildEarth Guardians is the group formed by the merger of Sinapu and Forest Guardians.

  71. Salle says:

    “Telling BLM and Forest Service bureaucrats what they are (and especially telling a governor that) doesn’t make you popular.”

    Yeah, but it’s the “right thing” to do. They are supposed to be public servants but, obviously they have other interests.

    We need to overturn the SC rulings that consider corporations equal to individual citizens and that $$ = free speech!!!

    And thanks, Brian, for looking that up. I was also interested in finding out what the deal was with that worn-out practice.

    Even though the the Phantom Hill project conducted last summer was deemed a success, I know Wolf Recovery Foundation helped to support that venture, those wolves could very well end up dead by way of lethal control anyway. I don’t see how temporary situations like that, especially when they were basically doing the livestock producers’ work for them at a cost to others~namely the donors to the project~is going to have any long-term effect. “…it just don’t make no sense”

    Sorry, but I feel that other proactive measures would be more beneficial over the long term.

  72. Dave Jones says:

    I should disclose that I am on the Board of WildEarth Guardians.

  73. Tom Page says:


    WWP’s bad rep goes beyond government agency staffers and politicos.

    I agree with you that in order to undo many of the Bush regs, litigation will be necessary. However, I think you would agree that it has been longstanding policy for many env. groups to sue every timber sale, or every change in water quality, or allotment allocation. This is not a new tactic, and the limited success of such tactics is what brought about the consensus/collaborative movement of the mid 90’s. I’m not defending collaboration here, either. It’s had mixed success at best.

    I think though, that if you look at some of the really nice ground out there…the kind that makes one realize what is possible habitat-wise…it takes committed landowners, superior staff, time and money. Landowners have the most productive land. They control the water rights, the grazing permits, access, development rights, etc. All of the things that create conflict are within their sphere of influence Consequently, they wield inordinate political power. When we work to create the critical mass of landowners in favor of conservation, things will change. Pushing lawsuits on landowners and agencies only makes them dig in their heels.

  74. Debra K says:

    Tom Pag–some of my most enjoyable times have been direct restoration projects on the land such as removing barbed wire and planting native plants. These activities feel good, achieve immediate results, and are fine to support.

    However, I believe it’s naive to think these efforts can accomplish much without advocacy groups working to change public policy. One lawsuit by WWP or WildEarth Guardians can impact hundreds of thousands of acres of public land. On the other hand, buying one ranch of a few hundred acres would take the entire operating budget of one of these grassroots groups, and affect little beyond the immediate locality.

    Also, while some (unnamed) conservation groups have been busy “collaborating” with ranchers and politicians, circumstances for the wolf, sage grouse, spotted frog, bighorn sheep, slickspot peppergrass etc. have been unbelievably dire, and required litigation to get agency attention.

  75. Brian Ertz says:

    Dave, WildEarth Guardians is another good one !

    Salle & Ralph,
    sorry to be combative. i doesn’t know how to turn off 😉 … I don’t mean to be overly critical. i wonder whether the compensation was a provision of the restoration dael and if they are obliged to continue, via contract, so long as wolves are listed ?

    i think that proactive measures are good for the most part. i think it’s important to demonstrate that it is effective, and politically i think it’s important to have demonstrated the good-faith – whether Livestock agrees, at least it’ll be there for rational decision-makers to know that co-operation was attempted and it is clear who is unwilling to co-operate and adapt.

    in all honesty, the biggest problem i have is the lack of public awareness about what is objectively the most destructive use of public lands (livestock grazing) and the most significant causal contributor to species endangerment in the west. A whole lot of folk don’t even know what public land is ! or how much there is, or how important it is ! so i say, go ahead and work with those willing, but everyone’s got the responsibility to tell the truth. that magazine article is full of ‘less-than’ truths & with exposure of hundreds of thousands of members who are on the receiving end, & e-mail newsletter after e-mail newsletter spreading the same ‘untruths’ to folk in all likelihood sympathetic to the truth – i think more groups with that level of exposure have a responsibility to be more truthful about the environmental costs (including to wildlife) that the activity (and so many others) inflict. not spin science on its head and pretend like preserving the activity is wildlife advocacy ! i’ll add my voice to Ralph’s in that NRDC is largely a wonderful exception.

    to swing it back to topic – Grijalva ‘gets it’ and we know that he ‘gets it’ because he’s been actively engaged and principled in his honesty about wildlife and public lands issues. others haven’t been, or we don’t know. still crossing my fingers

  76. Tom Page says:

    Debra K-

    To give you one example: Lava Lake Land & Livestock in Blaine County, ID controls more than 800,000 acres of leased ground, more than 25,000 deeded acres, with huge water rights. This is not some localized operation – it’s a multi-year project that will have a huge effect on the southern Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon. The owners of Lava Lake can basically set grazing policy for the roadless Pioneers and some of their desert leases. Even Ralph has grudgingly referred to them as a “progressive sheep operation.”

    Here’s another: Flying D Ranch in Gallatin County MT, has more than 120,000 of deeded ground from desert river canyon to the highest peaks abutting the neighboring lee Metcalf wilderness. Flying D is one of the few areas where native cutthroat restoration is possible in the Madison River drainage. It has at least 15 wolves and many thousands of elk. Native grasses up to your chest. Drive up the public road, take some pictures, and then compare it to past photos before it was purchased in ’88 or ’89. It will blow you away.

    A couple others – Medano-Zapata and the Baca in the San Luis Valley owned by The Nature Conservancy (a non-profit). Buying these massive ranches eliminated the possibility of groundwater pumping here in one fell swoop. And the huge New Mexico land grants such as the Valle Vidal purchased with public funding… need I go on?

    These projects go far beyond removing wire and plantings on a weekend. They may not garner the headlines of Jon Marvel chest-bumping with the Commissioners, but they’re a lot more effective.

  77. Brian Ertz says:

    Tom Page –

    which of those anecdotes “pencils out” and is running an operation that is economically self-sufficient ? Which one pays its own way ?

    You are wrong about the efficacy of anecdotes.

  78. kt says:

    Lava Lake is a Hobby Ranch. Their sheep trash portions of Craters of the Moon.

    The “organic” Lava Lake sheep do not set a foot on public land – because once on public land, the sheep are very likely exposed to herbicides used to try to control the weeds the sheep spread.

    Lava Lake sheep also trash large portions of the Forest Service country south of Stanley.

    Time for wealthy hobby ranchers to get their sheep off of public lands, including Craters of the Moon. Damage done by a domestic sheep is damage done by a domestic sheep. I don’t care who owns it.

  79. Tom Page says:


    I don’t believe any of them pencil out. I don’t see how that’s relevant when it comes to what shows up on the ground, and how to best implement conservation programs. Ted Turner has the deep pockets and the time to turn Flying D into a fantastic place for wildlife, and that’s good enough for me. We are talking about non-profit conservation programs after all.

    The problem of how to make these large properties profitable is very difficult. I’m coming to the conclusion that it might be better to operate them at a loss, because the plants and wildlife they harbor are more important anyhow.

    kt – I agree that Lava Lake sheep hammer some country – I’ve hiked and hunted it. My larger point is that by controlling the land, the permits and the water you have inordinate influence on what happens to the animals and plants that live on it or in it, particularly on large properties with big permits and senior rights. Much more influence than an attorney filing suit against the BLM. Lava Lake could retire all their leases if they chose to do so – the owners run it as a “hobby” ranch, as you say. I wouldn’t miss the sheep in the Pioneers any more than you would.

  80. Maska says:

    In addition to Defenders (nationally) and Western Watersheds and WildEarth Guardians (regionally in the SW), we give money to New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sky Island Alliance, and the Rewilding Institute. The latter does some great work on pressing agencies to follow the science in decision making. The run a very lean operation.

  81. vickif says:

    I am in awe of how we argue the value of good deeds here. None of the embattled groups above are out to do great har. Their premises are honorable, though their practices may not be perfect.

    None of us asks any oneof these groups to “take back” anything they have accomplished that we like. Yet we point fingers when we differ in the methods they use. Should we not join, become a memebr, and vote on the groups tactics? Or write and urge them to find other ways?

    Choosing who to give your support or money to is kindred to picking a spouse. You should choose the one that best mirrors your life desires and ways of achieving those things. Look to accentuate their positive attributes, and learn to accept that NO one entity is perfect. WHat if there was a group that had 90% of the ideals you stand for, but you kissed them away due to that 10%? You will have lost an opportunity to help advance ninety percent of the agenda you back. What a shame.

    These groups have one thing in common, they desire to do good deeds. Some are agressive in their approach, like WWP…others are cute and cuddley, like DOW….but every single one of them has members and administrators who see their mission as worthy.

    I contribute fifty dollars here, fifty there, to groups that I see do the work I enjoy seeing done. I volunteer, because my time is very valuable to me and I see it a a better use in some ways than that 50 dollars.

    Every year I take about 20 kids to the woods and Yellowstone, and let them fall in love with our environment. That is by far the biggest help I could ever be to my planet. It costs me extra food and labor. But what I get back is priceless.

    However you chose to spend your money, who ever you end up supporting, choose the one that best fits what you want to see our planet turn into -or remain. But all this finger pointing is a bit too high maintenance in my opinion.

    If it is that hard to decide, why not donate your time instead? Then you can assure you are doing only those things you see as a true benefit to our environment?

    This year I am foregoing bigger donations to purchase a small parcel of land bordering a national forest. The land will remain unused, excepting an occasional photo trek or kids camping trips. Next year I will buy another, then another. No one will live there, many will benefit from it, and it won’t be grazed, and children will learn to take ownership of our planet and protect it there.

    But I would like to say, Brian, you do good deeds…and you are one hard core believer:)

    Ralph, I absolutely admire your ability to find sense beyond emotion in these matters. That is a rare gift.

    Kt, you give me something new to ponder everytime I read a post you make.

    Maska, You are ever reasonable and calm,,,,,much needed in these times.

    Thanks all.

  82. Vicki,

    I wish it were that simple, and that kind of giving would be worthwhile if there were that kind of solidarity between groups.

    On the bison issue for instance, GYC – as one example – has used the bison issue to send out fundraisers to people nationally to raise money for the Royal Teton Ranch deal and make it seem as though they are doing something good for the buffalo when in fact they are doing something very bad for buffalo. Defenders sent out a fundraising letter when they weren’t doing anything at all.

    Now, all of that could just be a matter of good intentions gone awry, but these groups have an active history of undercutting the work of other groups working on the issue and undermining solidarity. And yet, when others dare to criticize them, somehow it’s those being critical that are breaking solidarity.

    This happens, I’ve noticed, in issue after issue. It happened in the anti-war movement where the NGOs actively undercut the grassroots groups, and the national grassroots groups undercut the local ones. It happened in the global justice movement. It happened in New Orleans where people wasted their money giving it to the Red Cross, where it did almost no good, when they could have given it to groups like Common Cause that were really there on the ground doing a ton of good (without any overhead).

    If it’s just a matter of a difference of opinion, I’m all for solidarity. I’ve emphasized that with local grassroots groups here in Greater Yellowstone on bison. One of the groups we often disagree with in Buffalo Allies of Bozeman is the Bear Creek Council – they support the Royal Teton Ranch deal, they support Montana’s hunt, they have allied with GYC. However, they are definitely a local Gardiner-based grassroots group. I’m always going to keep an open dialogue with them and urge people to work with them, if it’s their cup of tea. However, those groups that have power and money – like the NGOs – are a completely different story. They so often use their position not to facilitate solidarity and grassroots strength but to co-opt it and the issues that others care about – and I’m not convinced after so much that the organizations themselves are in it anymore for their good intentions (though I’m sure most of their staffs are).

    GYC in particular is egregious – they even support wolf de-listing and were kicked out of the wolf coalition by the other NGOs.

    So, I think Virginia’s question is pertinent, and it is important to do your research on a group. I’d urge people – at least in these parts – to give money to Buffalo Field Campaign as well as the Gallatin Wildlife Association. My group doesn’t ask for money – we are only worried right now with human capital and organizing people and volunteers. And, when asked by people out of town how they can help, there are plenty of ways to do that online, but perhaps there’s even more that can be done by finding a local issue of concern and putting time into that. People power is best, but if you can’t do that – then we have to be careful about giving money because a lot of that money is undercutting the things we think it’s helping – and may be undercutting unwittingly other people and groups working on the same issues.

  83. Virginia says:

    Wow – did I open up a Pandora’s box! Thank you all so much for your input about these organizations and now I am totally confused. I need to do some research in order to decide, as vickif said, which of the groups reflect my interests and issues. It is almost overwhelming to think about – there are so many great organizations. It is interesting that so many of you have such varied views on what these groups advocate for and why they are good choices for my money. If only I could personally work with a local group, but, as I said before, they don’t exist (except for GYC.)

  84. Salle says:

    Thank you , Jim McDonald~

    For so eloquently stating what many of us have been trying to put into our own words.

    I agree with your assessment, though I was reluctant to mention some of them as I am on the executive board of an organization, a non-member org, we only have our board of directors. Sometimes we work with these and other organizations. We advocate, participate in coalitions, support research and education efforts and sometimes have had difficulties with some of the org’s you mentioned. We have no overhead either.

    It’s unfortunate that some of these larger, more known by name recognition, organizations do this. I think part of their rationale is that they don’t want to step on any toes and, therefore, end up making a bigger mess of things by not recognizing that you can’t possibly make everyone happy all at the same time. Usually it is because they don’t want to lose funding. Unfortunately, this also extends to their hiring criteria.

    Money isn’t everything but in the minds of some, it’s what gives them a voice and a seat at the table. It isn’t always a good thing for the rest of us.

    The great tragedy of this type of activity/rationale is that they cloud the waters, so to speak, and make it difficult for the smaller, grassroots types to make any progress in getting their messages out and to be able to participate in negotiations with the other stakeholders in the process.

    I was reluctant to go into the details but did put up the warning that you can’t just go by appearances, as with any relationship, and need to investigate what these organizations really are doing in order to discover whether you want to contribute/participate.

    I am also a member of the Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho. They are quite active, smallish, and truly make a difference for their region. They have a very small staff, who are paid little, and cover a lot of ground from forest protection to wildlife issues. They work with the Nez Perce, who are in their area, as well as others and try to bring folks together. Occasionally they go to into litigation and often come up with satisfactory results. They are also big on public education. They could use more contributions too. When I lived in Moscow a few years ago, I was able to volunteer my skills for a few weeks and felt very fulfilled during and after that time. They were very grateful, it was a very good thing all around.

    As for larger, national orgs, I would advocate for NRDC, they seem to be straightforward and walk their talk. I have never had a negative experience in my dealings with them over the years. They do a lot of litigation but I think they are more in tune with their supporters and they really address the core values and needs of the issues they pursue.

  85. Fox says:


    hello… My name is Anja and I’m the Executive Director of Footloose Montana. We are a non-profit organization and our mission is to promote trap-free public lands for people, pets and wildlife. We formed in 03/2007 after yet another dog died a gruesome death in a Conibear trap. Since then we have been advocating a ban of commercial and recreational trapping on Montana’s public lands. Several other states have banned trapping and we’re hoping to follow suit in the near future. Among other things, we offer ‘Trapped Pet Release Workshops,’ where we educate the public about current trapping regulations, dog first aid and show people how to release companion animals from the various types of traps and snares. Please contact me if you’d like more info about our organization via our Footloose website at info@footloosemontana.org.

  86. vicki says:

    I understand where you stand completely. I don’t disagree. I just think each person needs to carefully assess each organization and place their loyalties accordingly.

    I also have to tell you though, that more people I talk to are put off by people downing the efforts of other groups, and therefore withhold their allegiance.

    It is a society that is growing far less tolerant of negativity.

    Of course, we should all keep the lines of communication flowing…..and practice thorough research before backing any group. And yes, I can see that many of these groups end up progressing in ways that may not be as productive as they should….but tell me, what else is being done? I am all ears.

    What have these grassroots groups done? And didn’t most of these bigger groups start small? Perhaps what we need to do is persuade the bigger groups that yield the most power? Obviously there is no doubt that BFC has integrity beyond compare, and the knowledge to have say so in what direction the bison head…..but how much progress have they made toward their goal in comparison to DOW, WWP and others? Would it not be wise to sway these bigger groups to do the good deed.

  87. Salle says:


    The grassroots organizations are often overlooked when it comes to having a seat at the table with the stakeholders. Then there’s that nasty little-talked-about tactic that the Bush administration has been able to use against them~labeling them eco-terrorists. It goes a long way in cutting off funding from major donors not wanting their operations to be completely interrupted for helping them as long as the feds use that label. It’s a big ugly situation there.

    As for the BFC, they do a lot, though mostly unrecognized, when it comes to public education. They conduct “tabling” operations in YNP and surrounding areas, they go on road tours to educate the public, all over the country, and have some advocates in other countries as well.

    The problem is that when they are effectively silenced by the fed and state governments, they have little ability to be heard and are often left out in favor of groups like the GYC who has only ever offered lip service to the issue and taken a lot of the recognition for work that the BFC actually did (and paid for).

    You have to go beyond the news headlines to get the really story there. It’s not as simple as it may appear on the surface. The short attention-span rationale rules in many of these cases. You really have to get under the surface, even to figure out that GYC and DoW have really done little in a helpful way on the bison issue other than provide lip service, just to name one. Many of their donors are wealthy and want to pick and choose when it comes to how much they are willing to support , and their names are part of the allure to raise funds.

    And to go further, in supporting what you desire with the non-profits you do support ~ I believe you can SPECIFY just what you want your donations to be use for and they have to use that money for that purpose and nothing outside of that designation. I know it’s the case in the organization I am an officer of. You do, however, need to be certain they have programs that are in that area in order to expect them to take your donation.

    FYI, WWP and DoW are two very different animals.

  88. Debra K says:

    Tom Page–if you would like to donate in the $5+ million range, I would be pleased to work with one of the non-profits I’m affiliated with to use those funds to purchase a base private property for conservation and restoration.

    But you can do the negotiating with the agencies to try to retire the grazing permits! Based on prior experiences with FS and BLM bureaucrats who resist these retirements, I would be exceedingly surprised if Lava Lakes could simply snap its fingers and have its permits permanently retired (but would fully support their efforts to do so).

  89. Virginia says:

    Again – thank you all and please keep sending the information. When you bring up bush’s “eco-terrorist” label, I confess that after reading Edward Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, I was ready to join them and become an “eco-terrorist.” Among many I would like to terrorize are the universities and corporations that promote and allow animal testing for their products. However, I realize that is another blog/issue entirely.

  90. Salle says:

    Edward Abbey was very inspirational but this new generation of the label is a broad swath approach to discredit anyone who is a thorn in the side of Bu$hCo and conservation foes.

    As with the BFC, they are pretty nonviolent but are often accused of things that are not the actual story. They have some valid detractors but for the most part, they aren’t what most would consider terrorists by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just another Rove/Cheney style of trashing those they don’t agree with and wish to silence.

  91. vicki says:

    Thanks for the info. I really do get all that, and yup from what I know you can earmark donations.

    But the thing I struggle with is this, if grassroots have so little power-how can we change it? Giving them more money tends to turn the into ‘corporate enviros’.

    As for DoW and WWP, yes they are very different, but I was pointing out that how they work and what they do is different-bith have people who favor conservation that oppose their missions…both act upon their vision differently—both have done great things, but neither is perfect in their direction of behavior (if you ask many people.) The point being, no group will be perfect, but just because they differ, or are large, doesn’t make them all bad either.

    And not every grassroots group will be a good one, nor will any be perfect.

    We cannot blame anyone but the gov. for drowinging out the little guys.

    My business mind says conform some group with a foot in the door, convert their motives and plans, utilize their power and capital. It takes a lot less time to use a voice that is laready being heard, then it does to force one through the crowd.

    BFC is one of my favorite groups. But sadly, they are somewhat stagnent in their progress. If they could only utilize big groups gusto…they’d be farther along in their progress. Dare to dream I guess.

    Until then, I will keep pluggin’ along down here in the cheaper ranks.

  92. Salle says:


    I do agree that some large organizations are doing good things, like NRDC, but I also see the others, like GYC, who just go about patting themselves on the back for sort of paying attention and getting invited to the party while doing little good for the communities they claim to “serve”. I say that because I know a lot of the locals in the Yellowstone area and they are just as disillusioned with them, perhaps more so. GYC and BFC don’t have a very good reputation in West Yellowstone, among the residents for different reasons.

    From what I am told by many; GYC is a blight with too much money and clout with negative results that affect the community for a variety of reasons. The BFC are not well received for other reasons, the locals say they aren’t very good neighbors, create a hazard on the roads when they are out there on the highway, many are “hippies” who don’t bathe and are hard to do business with when they come into town, and locals who work for the Park Service claim they don’t like to obey some of the rules when doing their public education programs. But the locals are upset at the treatment of the bison by the DoL and think that the whole thing is a ruse.

    So you have many obstacles that occur with these groups among the locals and some others.

    I don’t know what the answers are but I’d like to see these issues handled differently than they have been. It’s very frustrating.

    GYC is advertising for a new Executive Director at present.

  93. vickif says:


    I’d give you my vote, if I was a member :).

    The truth is, the groups I give money to tend to be more broad ranging…like Trout Unlimited. I don’t agree with them one hundred percent ofthe time, but see them as the best of the choices in their arena.

    I also tend to think that GYC is about the status, it lost it’s heart a while ago. As for BFC, well, if it takes a hippie, so be it, …but civility belongs everywhere.

    I also like to give money to local groups that send kids outdoors. So I donate to the YMCA, as they have outdoor ed programs that help even the poorest kids spend three days getting to experience the land I love.

    I would love to have the answer too, but dang, we have a lot to shuffle through just to figure out the very basics, huh. It is quite frustrating. I wish we could have more pull. The regular guy next door may not have all the answers, but he could atleast give input from the perspective of the vast majority. Then we’d atleast know what people see and expect from all of us.

    That’s kind of why I post here, I enjoy hearing everyone because it is enlightening and more ‘personal’ to learn from all of you then to attend a seminar or crack open a text.

  94. Sarah says:

    Vicki, with all due respect, I really am seriously pondering, without success, to see how the ‘regular guy next door”s input is important here. The regular guy next door may or may not even know that enviro issues are even issues at all. At least to the extent that they interfere with his ‘god-given american right’ to use the land as he sees fit. After 20 years as a volunteer and paid grass roots enviro, my unfortunate conclusion is that the ‘regular guy’ is usually clueless at best, and dangerously angry at worst.

    I am not a middle class elitist who is over-educated. I come from a poor family who taught me to stand up for what I believe in. And, so I picked conservation. I got a biology degree. I worked in the field and in fundraising and outreach positions. I’ve had this conversation many many times, Vicki, with folks who hold your observations. Folks who want to hope that the ‘regular guy’ holds the key to what we should do to placate the ‘vast majority’ in order to preserve our natural areas and the animals that live there.

    And, you know what? Sometimes, we chose to placate the ‘vast majority’ at our own peril. Sometimes we need to put our trust in folks who know what they are doing, even if they do not fit the mold of ‘regular guy’. In fact, committed enviros, and people who are committed in causes in general, are anything but ‘regular’.

    I am concerned with the disturbing trend in the US to downplay educated, committed, and skilled people, and that somehow the regular (joe six pack?) guy knows what’s best. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. There is no such thing as a ‘regular’ American. This line of argument is scary.

  95. vickif says:


    Thanks for your insight, I appreciate it.

    You are right, we do often settle for the bad to placate the many. But to change that, you will have to persuade the many that to do otherwise is better for them. We fail to do that, or have thus far.

    The reguler joe next door (not the same as joe six pack-joe six pack goes home a downs beers, most of us go home and worry about feeding our kids, cook dinner, do laundry and crash) is relevant, because we are ALL relevant, educated, skilled, commited, or not, every single opinion is relevant. Being more educated doesn’t always make you more qualified, concerned or commited, and it never makes you any more important or better than anyone else.

    Having that approach will only allienate people, heck, it annoys me and I am on the conservation side of things.

    In order for us to have decisions based on science, and have those decisions upheld and supported by ‘the people’, you must first convince those people that science will do what is in their own best interest.

    They have got to trust science and those who push for it. Treating them as though they are clueless, under-educated and ‘irrelevant’ will absolutely not gain their trust. It will piss them off and lead you to a place where you will have your back up against a wall.

    I am not saying-let the people do what ever they want. I am saying they have as many rights as anyone else, and our bigger duty is to lead, educate, and persuade them, to do the right thing with their votes, their actions, their lives.

    I agree with you that science should help decide, but life is NOT just about science, or the environment. It is about people too, I value them as much as I do the environment. I never said ‘joe six pack’ is the wisest guy on the block….but Bush Jr. and Sr., Castro, Bin Laden, Cheney, and many, many, many others were educated. That is proof that education is not every thing.

    You are pondering how the regular guys’ input is important? Because the regular guy next door is just as valuable as all the scientists in the world. He has the power of ingenuity, the power of his voice and his vote, and the power of his/her behavior and influence over others.

    It takes a lot of scientists, politicians, and enviro’s to make a law to protect a certain space, but just one pissed off displaced or uneducated person to strike a match and burn it all down.

    I am just as pro conservation as anyone here. But I am also a lover of the human species, and I think they often get over looked when we are trying to see the greener picture.

    Some more ‘educated’ folks may not see the guy next door’s opinions as valuable, and many seem to look down their noses at them….but without the avergae guy next door, what you have is a snowball’s hope in hell of conserving anything.

    A hand full of scientists is nothing compared to a nation full of average people motivated by an inspirational person- to do the right thing. That is why the average guys’ opinions count and do matter. How could you ask why they do, and then talk about needing to save them from their own peril?
    That isn’t very inspirational.

    I mean no offense here, but to say that their opinions have no relevance and then say we have to save them from themselves is IMHO, belittling and contadictory. Why would you care to save someone from peril, when their thoughts and feelings matter so little to you?

    I am trying to understand where you are coming from, as I do with everyone. I think, and correct me if I am wrong please ) that you believe scientists are better equiped to decide what is right for people than those people are? And, as a biologist and concerned citizen, you want to see conservation advance? You are worried that we don’t value education enough in our country? And that those without education, or skills, should just shut up and entrust their future to others?

    I doubt, with all due respect, you will convince many people that a scientist knows what is best for them. Especially with that approach. Science has little to do with emotion, or family. It has little to do with tradition, or commitment.

    The ‘regular’ American values the food on his table, the roof over his head, and the ability to suuport his family. Maybe we cannot lump all ‘regular’ people together, I give you that. But your ideals are not in line with the majority either.

    I just don’t see how you can convince Americans (most who don’t hold degrees , and many who perform blue collar jobs) that others who they don’t relate to, don’t have much in common with, and act as though they are too stupid to know what is in their own best interests, are the people that they should entrust their descisions to.

    I would love to see science placed in the plan of conservation, but you cannot over look the human factor either. If you do, you will fail.

    We are wanting the same things, as far as I can tell, for our environment. How we see it being achieved is vastly different. As one of those under-educated average folks, I will have to agree to disagree with you, about my opinion having relevance.

    However, I can say with absolution, that I believe Grijalva has gained this support because most epople do relate to him, on a human level, and he has gained their trust, because they believe he cares as much about them as he does the environment. Go Grijalva!

  96. Salle says:

    Vickif and Sarah,

    You both have valid arguments. I can find that agree with several points made by both of you. I think Vickif has the humanitarian aspect down and very well articulated.

    However, in defense of Sarah’s point(s):


    Just a little help there. I can sympathize with Sarah when confronted by this sort of thinking, which is rampant in the northern Rockies, where I have lived for the last 18 years.


December 2008


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey