Investigation under way after ranchers build fence in national forest

New path essentially creates a new road near Bear Lake

Rancher admits that they departed from the approved route, which had an old fenceline already cut, because they didn’t want to go through the Forest Service process of getting it changed.

“It’s just completely ridiculous, the process they have,” Wamsley says.

The new route cuts a 40-65 foot swath through the forest for 3 1/2 miles.

Investigation under way after ranchers build fence in national forest (video included)






  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    Durnd pesky rules! Who needs ’em?


  2. Jay Avatar

    “It was at their insistence that we went ahead and put this fence in,” Wamsley says.

    They made us break the law…that excuse never fails to amuse me!

    Give them a huge fine and make them tear it down. If they refuse, give them a huge fine, pay someone to tear it down, and bill the labor to them. And dump the removed fence in their front yard, for good measure. Probably should lose their grazing rights too.

  3. Mike Avatar

    Throw the book at them.

  4. kt Avatar

    Better yet: Cancel their grazing permits.

    I am sure these folks just must be always complying with grazing standards. Anyone know what allotment this is?

  5. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    If I am not mistaken, the article said, they are canceling some of their permits already, I would hope by time it is done, they will cancel them all

  6. JimT Avatar

    Ask yourself….What would Hayduke do?

    Yank the permit; make them tear down the fence, restore the land.

    A good book about public land welfare grazing abuses is WAY overdue. I notice Tim Egan just published a new book on fire and TR and Pinchot. Wish we could get him to write a book on grazing…

  7. Percy Avatar

    I notice the local commenters sympathize with the ranchers and their damn cows.

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Despite your dislike, your are going to find, the most vocal on local issues are the ones that are going to support local ranchers, and don’t take it as I am taking sides, but in my experience in the west or the east, local people support local business no matter what type it is..

    That said, these guys are fully in the wrong, need to have their permits pulled and fined and made to restore the area that was not theirs to change

  9. Chris H Avatar
    Chris H

    Taking away half of their grazing rights will probably make them put more cattle on the other half or leave them on the allotments longer than they should. I could be wrong about that but the action of the USFS seems counter-productive. If they are going to take away grazing rights it should have been all or nothing.

  10. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    It will need to go through the judicial process before they can pull all of their rights, breaking a contract is not quite as easy as you think, but with this blatant violation, I think the odds are good, that they will loose just about everything. Especially since so many eyes are watching and paying attention now a days..

  11. outsider Avatar

    I’m kinda courious how they were able to spend all that time with the doozers and equipment and no one from the Forest Service ever stoped them. I could be wronge but I bet it took well over a month to build that fence, were is the oversite on the forest Services part? If I don’t pay my campground fee it seems like there are a herd of them ridding my ass. Or is this a case of the local FS just didn’t care or dosen’t care whats going on out in the field?

  12. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    JimT–there are plenty of good books on public lands grazing–Welfare Ranching, Waste of the West, Western Range Revisited, Sacred Cows at the Public Trough, The Western Paradox, are some notable ones.

    Of course, a book in the genre from Egan would be great, but my opinion is that the issue needs its own “Inconvenient Truth” type movie. I am in fact working on a proposal trying to get funding for a documentary project on public lands grazing, so if anyone has any ideas on possible funding sources, please pass them along.

    I think seeing the damage and having someone explain it on video would help the untutored understand better than dry print. Somehow, we’d need to figure out how to get a “smellaround” similar to “sensaround,” so folks could enjoy that feedlot smell of manure and contaminated water on their public lands!

  13. Maska Avatar

    Just a wee reminder that there are no such things as grazing “rights.” I’m pretty sure that grazing on public lands has been found by the courts (all the way up to the Supreme Court) to be a revocable privilege, not a right. Can somebody from WWP confirm this?

  14. Ken Cole Avatar

    You are correct.

  15. DB Avatar

    Debra K,

    Great idea. Have you looked into the ones who helped Al Gore produce “An Inconvient Truth?” There must have been a lot of expertise and financial support other than Gore’s that went into that production.

  16. JimT Avatar

    Debra K,

    Try investigating the Sundance Institute and their programs. Contact Michael Moore and strike up a conversation; he is always interested in new and controversial subjects..perhaps the rampant ripoff of taxpayer dollars to support destructive practices on public lands may tickle his fancy, or help point you in the right direction.

    I am familiar with those books, though I think they are little dated, and definitely not mainstream. The reason I think of Tim Egan is because of his interest in the environment, and his notoriety and reputation in the reading world at large. Sort of like what happened to Wild Trees by Preston…If a purely enviro writer got that book published by a small house, it never would garnered the attention it got, plus Preston had a previous wild spread reputation due to his previous books, like Tim.

    The only people who believe these are rights are the holders of the permits and Sagebrush Rebellion folks..all to perpetuate the myth these are ‘their lands’, dadgum it…

  17. hilljack Avatar

    For the record most forest service ranger stations have only a handful of field going personel covering hundreds of thousands of acres. Add to that many of the field going personel are temporary and don’t know all the laws and regulations or who is permitted to do what. In the long run they all get caught and usually punished it is just hard to catch every violation. As for the camp ground that is the only job most of those employee’s have; cleaning restrooms, checking camps and dealing with complaints.

  18. jimbob Avatar

    Outsider, I love your analogy about not paying a campground fee—-so classic, and so true! These guys did hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage and nobody will really go after them–watch! You and I try to go camping, literally doing no damage, and the Forest Service practically harasses you for the 5 or 10.00. Classic!

  19. JimT Avatar

    If you track the budgets under Republican presidents since Regan, it is clear there is a strategy to cut enforcement funds and personnel in all of the environmental agencies, in addition to memos to enforcement personnel to drop enforcement actions, especially under the Bush administration. So, no wonder the NPS, etc are under the gun. Add in the usual bias towards the rancher, miners, etc by the USFS, BLM and USFWS..and you get situations like these. I know someone in BLM range enforcement pretty well, and basically for the last 8 years, it was clear he was to try to work with the ranchers when violations occurred, but under no circumstances was it to proceed to enforcement actions. Ranchers knew this…and took advantage. It is the front line staff who has had their rears hanging in the wind. I think most of them want to do their jobs..just are prevented from doing it without serious consequence, like being transferred or downsized as part of an “organizational restructuring”.

  20. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Most Administrations (both parties, but Republicans especially) keep public land enforcement budgets low for the same reason they keep predator control high.

    That’s because the public lands are not managed very much for conservation purposes, but to support traditional extractive interests. You pay, but others with more clout pay no more than a token.

  21. Evan DeHamer Avatar
    Evan DeHamer

    I’m a newcomer to the site, but a big fan of the tremendous amount of information presented here. It’s now top on my rss feed list. Thank you for all your efforts, Ralph!!! And thanks to this vital and diverse community of followers. I’m learning a lot from y’all.

    Debra K,
    I think your documentary idea is outstanding, very worthwhile and attainable. A good community to possibly tap into is the Montana State University dept of Media and Theater Arts

    They have an outstanding wildlife/natural history filmmaking Masters program and you may be able to pick some folks’ brains for funding sources, film ideas and maybe even collaboration. I hope to end up there in the near future myself, once I get my Wildlife Mgmt BS done at Eastern Kentucky. Hope this helps, and best of luck!

    Evan in KY (by way of SW Idaho)


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