Mike Hudak's Podcast: Politics Trumps Science in Rangeland Management

How they do it.

In this 15-minute audio presentation, Mike Hudak explains how ranchers use politicians to intimidate land managers from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management into providing rancher-friendly livestock management that is often detrimental to wildlife. Hudak cites passages from his book Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching that illuminate the topic.

Mike Hudak’s Podcast: Politics Trumps Science in Rangeland Management

Cow flop, beer cans, and cheatgrass.  © Ken Cole
Cow flop, beer cans, and cheatgrass. © Ken Cole (click for larger view)


  1. jdubya Avatar

    “”Water will be another area where we will be increasing our emphasis of our management on watersheds. It’s one of the things we’re seeing with the change of climate, the change of streamflow. The importance of our watershed is something that’s very undervalued. “”

    You can say that again.

  2. Maska Avatar

    This is a good, clear explanation of the political realities behind the mismanagement of grazing on our public lands. It assumes little or no background knowledge of the subject. Thanks for the post, Ken.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Ken, I think you captured a “cultural” landscape moment more clearly than any I’ve ever seen. Perhaps we should put together a gallery of photographs like this and hold a fundraiser celebrating the western “way of life”, “custom & culture”, “livelihood” and other choice double-speak celebratory phrases.

    Gawd – that was truly a Livestock blown-out wasteland …

  4. Maska Avatar

    That photo would make a great poster!

  5. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Just two things missing………a barbed wire fence, and a dead coyote hanging from it.

  6. Ken Cole Avatar

    I uploaded a larger version of the photo. Click it to see 😉

  7. kt Avatar

    Hey – Ken and Brian – Wasn’t that fine photo taken in the Jarbidge landscape. You know, where the U of I is so busily engaged in “studying” the effects of grazing. Funny thing, though, they never find much of anything other than the U of I Range Department’s solution to everything which is cows, cows, and more cows – particularly those livestock owned by Simplot or Senator Bert Brackett and kin.

    We peons just need to shut up – and keep the federal and tax dollars flowing to support this endless U of I range “research” and also to keep Simplot and Brackett on the federal and state taxpayers dole …

    Oh, and about that political pressure bit … alien to that fine Jarbidge landscape, too. Simplot and Brackett never ever exert any political pressure. Like thwarting FWS’s own efforts to List slickspot peppergrass in the early 2000s, or asking Larry Craig, Crapo etc. to get rid of any BLM person who tries to actually follow environmental laws …

  8. DB Avatar

    The problem is very few are turned off by this scene (so whats an occassional beer can?). I’ve had people tell me how the Camus prairie “must look just like when Lewis and Clark came through.” A “western way of life” gallery of photos is needed. Free audio tapes of Hudak’s spiel, distributed at the borders, public service announcements, billboards (like the anti-meth ads), 24 protection for card-carrying WWP folks, of course.

  9. ChrisH Avatar

    Maska, I am thinking of sending some copies of the book to our friends in the Springerville Office and an honorary copies to Uncle Bill’s Bar in Reserve!

  10. Maska Avatar

    Great idea, Chris. Just don’t put your return address on the ones to Uncle Bill’s! 🙂


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole