Excluding Cattle from Trout Creek

Twin Falls Ranger District’s Trout Creek, habitat for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, was among the locations found damaged by livestock grazing when Don Oman became the district ranger in 1986. In this video, Mr. Oman describes the dramatic environmental improvement that occurred after livestock were excluded from a short segment of the creek.

Don Oman was raised on a Montana farm and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in forest management from the University of Montana. In 1986, after twenty-three years with the US Forest Service, he became district ranger on the Twin Falls Ranger District (Sawtooth National Forest, ID) where he found severe environmental damage caused by livestock. During his ten years on the district, Mr. Oman came to national attention because of conflicts with ranchers over the management of their cattle under his jurisdiction.

This video is an excerpt from a much longer interview with Oman contained in WESTERN TURF WARS: THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC LANDS RANCHING. See http://westernturfwars.com for details.


  1. Jake Avatar

    Now that area is devastated by the Trout Creek timber sale. The Forest Service continues to prove its infinite disregard for ecology.

  2. DB Avatar

    Interesting how little interest stories like this generate on this conservation forum.

  3. Christopher Avatar

    That is a remarkable comeback. Does anyone know how the permit-tees feel about it now that they have seen the difference? Better yet, does this also improve range vegetation further away from the stream or is that still being denuded?

    1. Brian Ertz Avatar

      unless exclosures are accompanied by a reduction in actual numbers of livestock on the allotment, then the impact is displaced onto other attributes of the system – uplands, etc. Exclosures make for nice contrasts.

      Much attention has been focused on the importance of riparian habitats – which is great ! However, upland habitats are critical to a variety of species and watershed function – including carbon sequestration – as well. As before – when managers “fix” one attribute, unless they’re reducing actual livestock numbers – they’re playing whack-a-mole with impacts to a diversity of habitats/ecosystem attributes – which is often enough to skirt by their legal mandates as many are based on trending conditions and particularized (if present/maintained at all!) monitoring regimes.

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