Nevada: Rancher greed has no limits

They even resent wildlife guzzlers

“Members of the [Nevada] state Board of Agriculture argue that as their numbers increase, guzzlers are altering the landscape and taking precious resources, whether water or forage, from ranchers. They want to stop the Nevada Department of Wildlife from constructing any new guzzlers and are exploring possible legal challenges. Some ranchers say they are ready to sue over infringing wildlife.”

Guzzlers gouge rift between Nevada state agencies. By Sandra Chereb.- Associated Press Writer.

They are so greedy they oppose the direct collection of rainwater and snow by guzzlers.

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John Ralston is the most important political commentator in Nevada.

It’s not just greedy ranchers in the state.

Commentary: Marveling at the conflicts of interest, corruption tolerated in this state. By Jon Ralston. Las Vegas Sun



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  1. Salle Avatar

    Oh those poor ranchers. Heaven forbid that any wildlife should drink the water that they claim is their god-given-right to lord over all things. Not that they are so heavily subsidized by taxpayers without which they wouldn’t have any reason to be in the desert with their exotic livestock decimating the landscape. Next they’ll be crying about the air the wildlife breathe, they already have the BLM “chaining” the sage and pinion forests to make way for their livestock. Chaining, it is an act where two large pieces of equipment have stretched between them huge chains with heavy, flat pieces of metal welded to the links and then they drag them across the land scraping all vegetation off of it – sagebrush and pinion trees in general. This goes on without much public notice and has been decimating the land for generations. Anybody see anything wrong with this picture? and then these land-robber-barons decry the use of what little water there is in this wildland by the indigenous wildlife from sage grouse to antelope. Poor ranchers, maybe they should move their operations to the eastern states where there is GRASS for their livestock to eat and little public land for them to ravage unsupervised and uncontested by federal land agencies.

  2. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Nevada has to be one of the worst places on earth to try to raise cows, which evolved in and thrive in moist climes.

    Maybe we should start a fund or petition Congress for a bill to help ranchers move their cows and base properties east of the 100th Meridian.

    This article is a particularly annoying piece of rancher whining. The ranchers resent the little bit of water for wildlife, when their cattle drink a voluminous 60-70 gallons/day, plus stomp out and dry out streams, springs and seeps that are no longer available for wildlife?

  3. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    At least the Nevada F&W defended the use of guzzlers. Idaho F&G, as now directed by Governor Butch, would probably rush out to remove any Idaho wildlife guzzlers if Idaho ranchers were to protest their use.
    I went to a bighorn sheep meeting in Moab recently and a technician for Utah F&G discussed guzzlers and their use by bighorn sheep. He said that Utah bighorns refuse to drink from guzzlers with metal water troughs and thus only concrete troughs are used with guzzlers if they are for bighorns.

  4. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Larry, I’m sure you’ve seen lots of metal troughs that are algae and manure-filled hellholes and sacrifice areas from cattle. What self-respecting bighorn would drink from those?

    I don’t like to see artificial things like wildlife guzzlers being used, but they may be needed in some places where livestock or other human disturbances have altered water availability. Hopefully use of guzzlers/tanks can be phased out after the scourge of livestock is removed from our public lands and natural springs/seeps restored.

  5. kt Avatar

    There is a really telling statement down a ways in the article from Biaggi.

    “He said in many valleys where agriculture is present, springs and streams have dried up that would otherwise have been available for wildlife”.

    That’s putting it mildly. Not to mention the streams, springs and seeps across Nevada that the ranchers cattle and sheep have dried up. And that BLM has killed any natural surface flow in by “developments” for the same ranch cattle.

    Several thoughts on this:

    Nevada is the most arid state in the Nation. There is an all-out water war raging. Ralph has Posted a lot about the Las Vegas SNWA Pat Mulroy Water Grab. That water grab was moved forward by Harry Reid including a provision enabling the SNWA water mining infrastructure pipelines in one of his Wilderness Bills.

    SNWA has systematically bought out ranch base property after ranch base property across Spring Valley, Cave Valley and other areas of Nevada to enable it to kill the valleys, including vegetation in the valleys (which BLM is helping it to do by destroying sagebrush, spewing out long-lasting tree and shrub-killing herbicides in those same valleys, etc.) – and pipe water south.

    PUBLIC LANDS RANCHERS sold out, one after the other, for mega-millions to SNWA. Having RANCHERS grazing cows doesn’t stop development when dollars are dangled.

    There are also all manner of other Water Mining Sharks in Nevada – an entity called Vidler, Harry Reid’s developer friend Harvey Whittemore and others. And how does an entity like Vidler curry favor? Why – by letting local County Commissioner types graze under the public lands grazing permits it now holds. It gets even weirder since on some Ely BLM lands at least – you don’t even need a chunk of land as base property to hold a BLM cow grazing permit – all you need is a water right somewhere. Plus increasingly foreign mines are buying properties for water rights.

    Wayne Hage had an infamous “Ditch Rights” case against federal agencies. His relative may be continuing along those lines – for Sagebrush Rebel philosophical Reasons. I understand Hage’s son is still trespassing cows all over public lands.

    But that alone is too simple an answer.

    The Sagebrush Rebels have long served the purpose of Earth-Destroying Industry in NV by head-line grabbing yammering and antics – thus distracting agencies and the media from focusing on general raping and pillaging of natural resources in NV. See Shovel Brigade – Jarbidge.

    So we have water vanishing already from private and public lands due to a century and a half of welfare rancher abuse, every drop of water worth big bucks (except there are encouraging rumors that SNWA does not have as much $$$ as before), and inherent rancher greed and the sense that everything is theirs to destroy.

    We also have, not far from Hage country on Tonopah BLM lands and elsewhere in southern Nevada, proposals for a gazillion new industrial solar plants. This “renewable” energy takes WATER. If the ranchers can latch onto some guzzler water “rights” then these can potentially be sold to either Pat Mulroy or that latest desert water pilferer to come along – solar developers helping fan the next big speculation bubble that is going to Pop: Carbon/Industrial Renewables.

    And as I think of this in the context of NDOW right now. Gov. Gibbons has appointed a bunch of Butch Otter style bubbas to the Game Commission who can only see as far as a big dead head on the wall and who want to conduct scorched earth wars on predators. So that agency, like IDFG is largely disfunctional/completely brought to the heel of industry/local interests and Gibbons developer buddies.

    I have to view this also in the context of the all out War on Horses underway in NV right now. Even though cows and disease-infested domestic sheep grazed by welfare ranching operations on public lands greatly outnumber the horses in most areas, the horses are scapegoated for all manner of problems – out of proportion to the effects that they have. And the welfare ranchers are increasingly Mulroy, mines, Vidler water and other speculators)

    I’ve viewed this raging horse hatred right now – as being aimed at: 1) Giving the ranchers more grass and more water as the ecological situation continues getting worse – since ranchers have always hated wild horses and 2) Being aimed at Removing horse impediments to industrial development (SNWA water and other developments Ruby El Paso gas pipeline in the Calico Black Rock country that is so much in the news now, solar development, transmission, etc.). NDOW has helped fuel this in recent years – even though some of their bios will personally admit that when you look at this objectively – cows and sheep are usually much bigger culprits.

    NOW this sagebrush Rebel/Industry water grab/resource move is being made on NDOW … The horses are being cleared out for development. Your guzzlers (and the wildlife popualtions they support) are next …

  6. kt Avatar

    Here’s a song from Emmy Lou going out to the Sagebrush Rebel Ranchers, Las Vegas water pirates, and Public Lands Solar Developer Water Greedheads in Nevada:

    nipple to the bottle to the gun to the cell …

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Debra K-
    The metal water troughs they used on guzzlers were more like little bowls controlled by a float. The bighorns would not drink out of clean metal bowls. Utah guzzlers are all equipped today with concrete bowls. Guzzlers are very important for wildlife in areas where natural springs are non-existent or have been piped away for domestic livestock.
    During the Carter administration, streams in Idaho were diverted into pipes that lead to hydro-projects. Dry Creek on the Little Lost and Birch creek in Idaho are examples. Other streams in the Little Lost drainage are diverted into concrete pipes for irrigation, making them totally unavailable for wildlife. In the coming rush for renewable energy, streams on public lands need protection from projects like these.

  8. kt Avatar

    Larry: That Dry Creek diversion is a travesty. In one of the most spectacular areas on the east side of the Lost River range. Regarding the Birch Creek Diversion: Did Birch Creek used to flow down onto INEL – into nuke land? Birch Creek is a major river compared to most streams in Nevada.

    The other thing: The Nevada ranchers have pretty much walled off their sacred scraggly irrigated pastures with 12 foot tall elk-proof fencing paid for by NDOW. Right on the Idaho border, Gay Simplot, Butch Otter’s ex-wife owns the Diamond A Ranch -it is surrounded by this horrid fence. Last week I drive through the Gambel-Winecup-Thousands Spring country to Montello. There are several miles of this “depredation” fence to exclude any mammal larger than a rabbit from accessing private lands and waters. I assume NDOW had to pay for that too – likely hundreds of thousands of dollars – I would guess. Further south down towards Hage-land, where water is oh-so scarce, you come across the only irrigated and watered area on a 40 acre parcel of private lands completely surrounded by this kind of fencing. The greedy NV ranchers are intent on killing off the wildlife by all ways possible.

    I’ve wondered, too if at times the ranchers don’t use these fences to

    So those Hydro Projects were from the Carter admin.? Cecil Andrus was responsible (I do indeed believe it of him, having seen his craziness with the Bombing Range). I am very concerned about the commitments being made to destroy public lands for “renewables” by Ken Salazar off speechifying in Copenhagen. Rather than being at home dealing with cow and sheep impacts that are destroying the ability of the public lands to naturally sequester carbon.

  9. kt Avatar

    And Larry:

    Funny you should mention those old Hydro Projects.

    The Salazar era Renewables Wind projects also are often coupled with new Hydro projects. You must have known …

    High-desert hydro: Developers envision more hydropower near China Mountain

  10. Frank Renn Avatar

    I am all for natural free flowing streams. Having clarified that I wonder if any of you had the opportunity ti visit Dry creek before the pipe was installed? The predecessor to the pipe was a open concrete flume. It was constructed on a steep grade with steep sides. There was a barbed wire fence on both sides. I think the intent was to keep livestock out. I say this because when a deer or elk jumped the fence it landed in the flume. We did in fact find dead elk at the lower end. If you made frequent stops there you could identify the carcasses and come up with a good start to listing the fauna of the Little lost.

    A friend had his Brittany fall in the flume. We could not run fast enough to catch up to it, so we had to drive down the road and get far enough ahead of the dog to be able to catch it before it drowned. I might not be happy there is a pipe there, but it has to be better than the flume.

    Frank Renn

  11. kt Avatar

    Frank Renn –

    No I did not see it then. Larry might have seen it before any development occurred.

    I believe the first Dry Creek structure/dam blew completely out – killing 2 local men below it. There is a sign about that down near Wet Creek, if I recall correctly.

    I’m hoping for Borah Earthquake II avenging angels …

  12. nina Avatar

    You folks are really lumping ranchers in a broad category. I suggest you search Duane Coombs with the Smith Creek Ranch in Nevada, who has used his degree in range management and knowledge of holistic grazing management to create prime wildlife habitat, especially sagebrush leks.
    It may come as a shock to some of you, but many ranchers are wildlife-lovers too, and if given the resources and the cooperation, not just hollow threats to destroy their livelihoods, the West could be a much better place because of them, not in spite of them.

    1. mikarooni Avatar

      nina, I’m afraid the exceptions make the rule and I sure wouldn’t count on them being “just hollow threats.” Rather than posting here, you might spend your time more productively urging your ag friends in the State of Utah to knock off their recent “return of the Sagebrush Rebels” crap. That might be a better bet.

  13. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Nina, the ranchers like you described are few and far between unfortunately.

  14. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I do believe there can be “improvement” of lands with some of the so called RS and Holistic managements, but until ranchers graze with functional cow herds…and this means cattle with ancestoral learning…then all you have are grassivores, not herbivores. And without herbivores and the broadleaves they eat, there is NOTHING to be proud of happening “out there”.

    Thus, none of universities Range Science or more ‘hip” holistic management practises will constitute ecological sustainability….EVER!!!!

    It is all so archaic and Dark Ages this supposed enlightened grazing. Until colleges and ranchers understand how grazers evolved and how they lived as functional social family groups ….and then duplicate this…. you and any other rancher basically has nothing but different levels of ecological degradation.

    Of course the same goes for all the state G&F departments that set seasons ensuring dysfunctional wildlife populations. At least, though, there is ancestoral grazing learning going on…something cattle ranchers allow none to commence.

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