Public Land Ranchers Object to Species Viability

In an implicit acknowledgement that public lands ranching is often incompatible with native species viability on public lands, Margaret Soulen Hinson provides more hyperbolic rhetoric at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands:

Public Lands Council Press Release:

Nov. 16, 2011

On behalf of the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), Margaret Soulen Hinson told lawmakers during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands if the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service’s proposed forest planning rule goes into effect, thousands of ranching families could be forced off the land.

While Soulen Hinson, an Idaho cattle and sheep producer and president of ASI, discussed multiple concerns PLC and ASI have with the proposed planning rule, which could be finalized this winter, she spent the bulk of her testimony detailing the negative effect a provision calling for management for “species viability” would have on federal lands ranching.

“By 2013, my family and I will be forced to remove 60 percent of our sheep from our allotments on the Payette National Forest, which may well mark the end of our family’s 80-year-old sheep operation altogether,” Soulen Hinson said.

“This has come to pass because of a very specific wildlife provision of the current planning rule, which calls for management for ‘species viability.’ The term ‘viability’ is a vague, ill-defined term which appears nowhere in statute and has been the source of endless litigation and economic destruction over the years. We recommend the Forest Service remove entirely the term ‘viability’ and leave wildlife management to the states, as required by statute.”

The “species viability” standard has been in the implementing regulations for the National Forest Management Act since 1982 without the dire prophecies Hinson warns of.

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editorial comment 11-19 by Ralph Maughan. The latest poll shows Communism now more popular than Congress. Eleven per cent would like convert U.S. to Communist system; 9% approve of the job Congress is doing.


  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    Woolgrowers and ranchers just don’t want to be held to any standards at all. They don’t care about any of competing interests of the public and just want everything they want all of the time and they want us to pay for it.

    The devastating impacts she talks about are to the habitats and wildlife not the ranchers.

    Just wait, they will oppose REVA because it threatens their hegemony too.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      To them, acknowledging competing interests in the land in any meaningful way would be disastrous. They want to continue to pay lip service to caring deeply about the land, while exploiting it in whichever way will yield the greatest economic benefit.

      I hope I get to see the end of sheep on public lands during my lifetime.

      1. Mario Gandolfo Avatar
        Mario Gandolfo

        The ranchers finally did it,they finally said what we wolf and wildlife advocates have known all along, ” they want nothing short of eradication of the wolf and not because they are taking sheep or cattle but because with the wolf gone as top predator the ranchers and sheepers can get fatter and fatter making worry free money off of FREE land !!!!I say good let the ranchers and sheepers run their mouths,let the whole world see what we advocates have known all along..Their HIDDEN agenda…

  2. Janine Blaeloch Avatar

    Ranchers–worst whiners ever.

  3. Nancy Avatar

    “We recommend the Forest Service remove entirely the term ‘viability’ and leave wildlife management to the states, as required by statute.”

    Well, we all know how well thats been playing out, especially lately, when it comes to the welfare of bison, bighorn sheep and wolves.

  4. S Hambley Avatar
    S Hambley

    Ranchers must PROVE that wolves are killing their stock via DNA—
    also, ranchers must PROVE they are using the various methods employed to deter wolf predation (with all the unemployed out there, I’m sure many would love to ride fences or other perimeters, for example).

  5. Savebears Avatar

    All I can say to her….

    Tough Sh!t

  6. Jay Avatar

    This is THE reason I will never put another red cent into the pockets of the livestock industy–wild game tastes better, and is better for you and for the land.

  7. Mario Gandolfo Avatar
    Mario Gandolfo

    Allotments people allotments not rancher owned land but Government alloted,THESE FILTHY RANCHERS DO NOT OWN THIS LAND IT IS PUBLIC AND THEY ARE SQUATTERS.IF THEY DO NOT LIKE THE WAY THINGS ARE PLAYING OUT THEN THEY CAN MOVE..The Cattle and sheep decimate the landscape and poison OUR rivers not 1 single wild animal does that..This is no more than about one single thing “MONEY” I am disgusted at the lengths some supposed politicians who are to me no more than bullies and on the take crooks will go to eradicate 1 entire species (Wolf) all in the name of MONEY !!! GOOD,let all the ranchers finally come out and tell it like it is so the whole world can see what horrid greedy monsters these sorry excuses for humans they really are !!!

  8. JC Avatar

    Jay im with you, Live stock is drug induce to make them grow faster , steroids we humans don’t need, among what ever else we can be poisoned from these herders be it cattle or sheep. I think Trophy killing needs to stop, trapping needs to stop, Killing our wildlife needs to stop. If you can eat it Leave it alone. The Herds make millions off of people eating there nasty livestock, I buy off Amish for over 20 yrs now no chemicals, no drugs and it taste so much better. Deer Meat Is Great. But To Kill and let it lay just for its horn & hide is So ignorant. There are People out there starving and your going to waste a animal because your idiot trophy hunters. I’m sick of our wildlife being killed off, wolves, buffalo, cougars, Wild Horses, etc… That Free Land should be only for wildlife not Sheep, Not Cattle. Keep Them all off the property and start keeping it fenced off for the wildlife and stiff penalties for any animal they kill on purpose. Man has invaded Far to much, and your taking there land away for centuries now. Leave them alone stay off the land, USE YOUR OWN, YOUR GREEDY, SELFISH, AND IGNORANT, LOWLIFE’S……..

    1. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
      Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

      JC –
      “…But to Kill and let it lay just for its horn & hide is So ignorant…”
      This seems to be a mis-understanding of “trophy” hunting. There are many hunters who value “trophy” animals. There are no trophy hunters who legally waste meat. Ethical and LEGAL hunters who restrict their harvest/kill/take of wildlife to “trophy” animals always harvest the entire animal making sure the meat is not wasted.

      1. Jay Avatar

        However, Mark, Idaho law now condones legal waste of game (from the IDFG website):
        “Hunters are required to remove and care for the edible meat of big game animals, except black bears, mountain lions and gray wolves. This includes the meat from hind quarters as far down as the hock, meat of the front quarters as far down as the knee and meat along the backbone which is the loin and tenderloin. It does not include meat of the head or neck, meat covering or between the ribs, internal organs, or meat on the bones after close trimming.”

        So not only can you waste an ENTIRE bear or cougar (both quite tasty, I’m told–never heard of wolves as meat), you can waste all neck meat and rib/brisket meat–what’s that amount to on a bull elk–60, 70 pounds? That is outright waste of perfectly good meat.

        1. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
          Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

          I agree. Bears and lions are both quite tasty. I have eaten and enjoy them both. You are correct that, depending on the animal, there can be a significant amount of rib, brisket and neck meat. What the rule (law) allows is something different from the notion that “trophy” hunting means only antlers, hide/pelt are taken by the hunter. The tradition of “trophy” hunting in North America has never been typified by that practice. Illegal, wasteful violations do occur, but like other examples of illegal activity in the woods, that’s exactly what wasting a big game animal is (other than bears, lions and wolves – less or no social/cultural expectation of human consumption)n – illegal acts.
          Most hunters would choose a large antlered buck or bull over a smaller one, and that choice fits one definition of “trophy hunting”. It would be very inaccurate to suggest that those same hunters do not put very high value on the meat of their kills.

          1. Jay Avatar

            There certainly is a significant segment of hunters that values the meat, but you can’t discount the number of hunters that would leave the meat to rot if allowed, so long as they got their trophy rack to hang on their wall. And along those lines, why is the state making it acceptable to waste meat? Rather than moving forward with more stringent regulations making people bring out all edible portions, I see Idaho moving backwards. Please explain that to me.

          2. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
            Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

            I can only offer my perceptions and interpretations of different issues considered when these policies and rules were developed and ammended. One consideration has been the test of “reasonableness” applied to a hunter, especially in logistically challenging circumstances – for the requirement to salvage edible meat. Because many do not consider rib meat, brisket meat or neck meat to be as desireable (especially for smaller animals or those with significant bone/tissue damage from a bullet wound)as loins and front/hind quarters – there is a general consideration that the hunter should be allowed to assess the edibility of those portions and whether or not the effort to pack out those less valued portions is merited. Many hunters, myself included, are fastidious about trimming all edible portions of the animal for consumption. That is one of my personal values and rules of hunting conduct. My impression has been that in a broad sense there is also a recognition that once the animal has been “reduced to personal possession”, the meat is, in fact, personal property and within reasonable expectations by society that the public trust animal not be wasted and be used for a socially sanctioned “beneficial use” each individual (hunter in this case) should be free to make his/her own value decision. I emphasize here that I am NOT quoting or describing official IDFG, Idaho Fish and Game Commission or State of Idaho policy. The rule/law is clear on what is required for salvage of edible meat. This post is simply my best recollection and understanding of concepts and discussions that lead to these rules.

          3. Jay Avatar

            Well Mark, I respect the fact that you honor the animal enough to take everything edible. However, the fact that the state allows people to waste meat-regardless of the circumstances (if it is too difficult to get it all out of the hills, than you damn well shouldn’t have shot it in the first place) is a disgrace. I can only hope that someone in your department is working to change these laws.

          4. Jay Avatar

            “Because many do not consider rib meat, brisket meat or neck meat to be as desireable…”

            Clearly you don’t think this way, but I have to wonder why, if butcher shops (sloppy as they may be in their trimming practices to save time) throw all the neck/rib/brisket meat into their burger bin as perfectly acceptable burger meat, why would anybody think differently with wild game?

          5. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
            Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

            “I can only hope that someone in your department is working to change these laws.”
            That is up to the people of Idaho and the Fish and Game Commission to decide. If you live in Idaho, then I encourage you to share your desires and preferences with the Commissioner who represents you. If you aren’t an Idaho resident, you still have the opportunity to communicate with individual Commissioners or the Commission aa a body, sharing your thoughts and recommendations.

          6. Ken Cole Avatar

            Would you please move this discussion to another thread? This article isn’t about hunting whatsoever.

      2. christopher cooper Avatar
        christopher cooper

        Trophy hunters want trophies. Depending on how far off the beaten track a male elk or moose is killed, the trophy hunter has a priority. The head (rack). Sure, if possible all the meat is packed out, especially if you have horses oa a 4X4. Many an animal carcass, minus their head and hide with a few choice cuts of meat, remain in the forest. If you are a hunter or know any hunters, then you know this is what happens.
        Have you ever eaten bear or cougar? How about wolf?

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    It is time to get the range maggots off of public lands.
    Eighty years of Soulen sheep spreading disease and destroying public land is enough.

    1. Mario Gandolfo Avatar
      Mario Gandolfo

      HERE HERE,the same with steer ranchers,,take the SQUATTER land back and give it to it’s rightful owners to enjoy in a public and recreational manner (US/WE THE PEOPLE) !!!

    2. christopher cooper Avatar
      christopher cooper

      We eat every meal as if it were a feast. Our ingestion of these meats and dairy proucts in such quantities is killing us. The meat and dairy industries don’t want you to know this.
      Why would they? Our eating habiys are the reason cattle and sheep are grazed on public lands. Man is not a carnivore. the presence of alphe amylase in his saliva (to aide in plant digestion) and a long colon, make it so.
      Actions have consequences.

  10. mikarooni Avatar

    I’d like to offer two points here. First, the use of the term “livestock industry” in referring to western public lands grazers is pretty much a misnomer. On most of the western public lands, it takes as much as 80 to 100 acres to support a single AU year-round. On most pastures in places like Georgia or Alabama, it can take one or two acres and the meat is less stressed thus preferred by the consumer. The true “livestock industry” includes a few minor pockets west of the cascades; but, the real production comes from the South, east TX up across the Carolinas, and from the subsidized corn and grain belt of the Midwest. These are the areas that support the big feedlot industries and that’s where most of the country’s meat actually comes from. The kind of western ranching championed by groups like the PLC don’t produce enough meat to truly be a significant part of the “livestock industry” overall. What they actually produce is local political mob clout in states where people have little education, little sophistication, are easily swayed, and where doesn’t take many votes to control a Senate seat. In this sense, the PLC isn’t really defending any “livestock industry” at all. It’s a farm program alright; the PLC is the mouthpiece for a farm program that raises political machinery and not much more.

    Second, for the reasons reiterated above, the western public lands ranching scam actually isn’t itself viable as a real occupation/business without all kinds of protection programs. So, if the PLC is eager to challenge federal programs that protect the viability of species that would not otherwise survive, then why can’t we find a way to effectively call them on their obsessive defense of bogus programs that protect ranching scams that would not otherwise survive?

    1. Jay Avatar

      Milkaroni–I make no distinction between western cattle production and everywhere else when I refer to the “livestock industry”. Mass producton of livestock is inherently bad. CAFO’s and their associated pollution, vast acreage of land put into polluting, petroleum-based fertilized corn production to feed to cows (which aren’t even adapted to eating the stuff), destruction of rain forests and killing off of wildlife in Brazil to convert jungle to cattle ranches, etc., etc., etc. The livestock industry is hell on wildlands and wildlife. You might find a mom-and-pop ranch that raises grass-fed beef on their own lands that is fairly eco-friendly, but that is a rarity in this day and age.

  11. Mario Gandolfo Avatar
    Mario Gandolfo

    Here is a thought for all meat eaters,,please chew on this for awhile and think about it and how, YOU the American citizen are paying DOUBLE TAXES for the beef you eat…: The cattle ranchers – I just realized something – think about this – if cattle ranchers can graze their livestock for FREE on the PUBLIC LANDS WE PAY FOR WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS, doesn’t that mean that I (all of us) should be entitled to eat the beef raised on that FREE GRAZING LAND (FEDERALLY TAX PAYER FUNDED ALLOTTED LAND,THE RANCHERS DO NOT OWN THE LAND THEY ARE GIVEN ALLOTTED LAND THAT IS PAID FOR BY OUR TAXES – also for FREE???? Why should tax-payers have to pay a second time for food that was raised and already paid for by YOUR tax dollars?? I mean, YOU already BOUGHT that hamburger! Thoughts????

    1. Mario Gandolfo Avatar
      Mario Gandolfo

      I say a Government project should be started where a rancher gets a certain amount of money allotted per head of steer..I mean c’mon they pay NOTHING for the land the cattle grazes on so in essence they are squatting on public allotted land given to them to use by OUR Government !!!

      1. Savebears Avatar


        Although they don’t pay fair market value on the land they graze their cattle on, they don’t get it for free, they do pay fees set by the government to use the federal lands. You need to brush up on you knowledge of the federal grazing programs before you state ranting about them.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          +Standards for Healthy Rangelands and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management became effective August 21, 1995 in accordance with the Department of Interior’s final rule for grazing administration. The development and application of these standards and guidelines are to achieve the four fundamentals of rangeland health outlined in the grazing regulations (43 CFR 4180.1). Those four fundamentals are: (1) watersheds are functioning properly; (2) water, nutrients, and energy is cycling properly; (3) water quality meets state standards; and (4) habitat for special status species is protected+

          Read somewhere (can’t recall right off the bat, but probably on this website) grazing fees bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million here in the west. but upkeep of all the agencies “associated” with the collection of those grazing fees, manpower, improvements, etc….. COST taxpayers in the neighborhood of $150 million plus.

          Sounds like a welfare program to me and those figures don’t even come close to the subsidies paid out to these ranches and farms – year, after year, after year.

    2. WM Avatar

      Are the CAPITAL LETTER WORDS supposed to be shouts or to add emphasis to your (uh?)points?

      While the amount paid to graze is nominal, there is a fee established by Congress and administered by the federal government ($1.35/AUM or animal unit month, which is well below market which is thought to be about $7.50 per AUM.

      I could only find the 2010 fee, but believe 2011 is identical.

      So, Mario, do you believe Congress, in this instance, does not speak for our government? And is it possible you are confusing subsidies with TAXES (shout intended), dude?

      1. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        Where did you get the $7.50/AUM figure? Is it just $1.35/AUM adjusted for decades of inflation?

        1. Elk275 Avatar


          Read what he said: ++While the amount paid to graze is nominal, there is a fee established by Congress and administered by the federal government ($1.35/AUM or animal unit month, which is well below market which is thought to be about $7.50 per AUM.++

          Currently, ranchers are paying $1.35 an AUM while the market rate is $7.50 which I feel might be on the low side. The $7.50 is the MARKET RATE not the rental rate.

          1. Daniel Berg Avatar
            Daniel Berg

            I was just curious about how they came up with $7.50/AUM as what the market rate would be on grazing allotments if it wasn’t pegged at $1.35/AUM. It’s WM, so I’m sure he’s referencing that figure from some kind of source.

          2. WM Avatar


            The $7.50 I used (actually I think it was even something like $7.35) came from a conservation organization website. No doubt, Brian E. and Ken who deal with this stuff all the time, probably have a more accurate market based rate for the cost of an AUM on equivalent private land.

            The point I was making is that there is a huge gap, but that it federal land grazing is not free, and Congress has made a conscious choice to continue the subsidy, notwithstanding the huge environmental degredation which accompanies publc lands grazing at below market rates, which is sort an insult on top of an insult.

          3. Ken Cole Avatar

            I recently found an article which valued an AUM at about $13.00 on private lands. I can’t remember where it is though.

  12. Virginia Avatar

    I love to read all of these radical comments – you all sound fired up and ready to “Occupy” public lands welfare ranching. It is long past time to stop these “ranchers” being allowed to use our land to feed their cattle/sheep for practically nothing, meanwhile procuring wildlife services to destroy our wildlife for their convenience. Haven’t eaten beef for 34 years!

    1. christopher cooper Avatar
      christopher cooper

      Good for you. You have not been part of the problem.

  13. Ken Cole Avatar

    Here is an article from 2006 that says $13.20 per AUM on private lands.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I don’t know what the average private fee per AUM is, but the point to me is that the market sets a payment so far above what federal government charges that the federal rate is a mere token, like some business transaction where there is legal necessary money has to change hands, so for sake of legal formality one dollar is paid.

      1. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        That’s a good comparison. It might as well be free.

        It wouldn’t be surprising if the fees were at least $13.20 today. From what I’ve heard, some ranchers have done pretty well this year and it wouldn’t be surprising if that put some upward pressure on those private fees.

  14. Ken Cole Avatar

    When you add the actual government subsidies received by many, especially the biggest players, they actually end up paying zero or get money in return for grazing public lands.

    I’ve actually attended meetings where one of our state senators suggested he should be paid for grazing his livestock in strips created for fire control. These are programs called “stewardship contracts” where cattle blast a landscape to the point where nothing grows along a strip of land. Otherwise grazing has little to no effect on fire prevention. Fire depends more on conditions and how much grass or fine fuels there is on a landscape. In the case of the Jarbidge cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass have replaced sagebrush communities and now they burn every couple of years. This is the result of management for the benefit of livestock over the last few decades and now they want to paid to graze it.