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 for details.

About The Author

Brian Ertz

4 Responses to Excluding Cattle from Trout Creek

  1. Jake says:

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

  2. DB says:

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

  3. Christopher says:

    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?

    • Brian Ertz says:

      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.


August 2011


‎"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

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