Grazing Leads to Blazing

Livestock grazing has fanned summer’s fires in Idaho and the West-

Livestock grazing in southwestern Idaho and across the West has contributed significantly to intensity, severity, and enormity of fires this summer. Important habitat for sage-grouse, redband trout, other wildlife species is now ablaze. Despite the livestock industry’s claims to the contrary, the Idaho fires are burning hotter and faster because of the impacts of cows and sheep on our arid western lands.

Here’s how it actually works: Livestock chomp away large amounts of forage, removing the native grasses that burn at a lower intensity than the fire-prone invasive species that dominate many areas of Owyhee County. While cattle and sheep grazing decreases the presence of fire-suppressing bunch grasses and forbs, it also spreads plant species like cheatgrass that increase fire intensity and frequency. Combined with drought, high winds, and low humidity, the impacts of livestock grazing are a root cause of the West’s intense wildfires. The presence of livestock only increases the long-term probability of more intense and more frequent wildfire. The myths around livestock having beneficial effects on large fires only come when so much grass has been removed that there is nothing left to burn, which is a very bad outcome for the ecosystem.

Livestock grazing not only increases the intensity and frequency of fire, but also exacerbates the impacts of wildfire on the post-fire landscape. The removal of vegetation from the land coupled with heavy hoof trampling results in the increased severity of erosion that often occurs after wildfires. These degraded soils set the stage for further infestations of invasive species, and the cycle continues.

For a century and a half, livestock grazing has wreaked havoc on the sagebrush landscapes of the West, stripping away wildlife habitat, plant communities, and beautiful scenery. More frequent and faster-burning fires move across the West, and we as federal taxpayers continue to subsidize the grazing of over 225 million acres of public land. The sage-steppe landscape goes up in smoke, we lose money, and the livestock industry gets a free ride. Something is wrong with this picture.

The solution is not more grazing, but passive restoration of the landscape. Allowing native bunchgrasses to return to Owyhee County would offer a long-term solution. The removal of livestock grazing leads to more native grass production, less intense fires, increased biodiversity, and improved wildlife habitat.



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  1. Daryl Hunter Avatar

    Yes, lets put the ranchers out of business so more of those city folks can buy up newly subdivided ranchets. Maybe then when land isn’t at such a premium in Stanley Idaho, I will be able to afford a little bit of heaven there then. Oh, wait a minute, I guess that soon Stanley will look like the piece of heaven I bought 20 years ago that is now wall to wall ranchers.

    Ranchers are the keepers of our green space in our mountain valleys and I don’t think anyone will like the looks of them when the ranchers go out of business.

    1. Jay Avatar

      “Ranchers are the keepers of our green space in our mountain valleys and I don’t think anyone will like the looks of them when the ranchers go out of business.”

      Ever notice how the private ranches are nice and green, and the public lands above them are often beat to dust and chocked full of weeds?

      1. Daryl Hunter Avatar

        Not where I live, maybe that is because most of the ranchers where I live have subdivided their ranches to make room for photographers like me and environmentalists like you.

        I just did a photo jaunt across Union Pass between Pinedale and Dubois Wyoming, I was taken aback by the beauty of these hundreds of square miles of grazing land. As I looked around I was amazed at how much it resembled the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone. Since I am a wildlife photographer, I couldn’t help but nearly wish there weren’t grazing allotments up there because it was such perfect grizzly bear habitat. I did have to remind myself what would happen to the Pindale ranchers who then would be incentivized to help the gas fields of the Pinedale Anticline reduce their housing shortage.

        I have seen the law of unintended consequences kick the ass of well meaning ideas to many times to buy into the Western Watersheds project’s wet dream.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Daryl Hunter,

          Union Pass is a nice place, but it would look better without all the cattle, and there are a lot of grizzlies there. They are legally slaughtered with little concern just because the eat a few cows.

          As far as subdivisions and ranching go, there is no trade off in my mind.

          If people want recreational or summer homes where there is a lot of ranching, they always manage to acquire it anyway.

          If ranchers operate in a non-scenic area, they can say they will sub-divide if they don’t get their way or get pushed out of business, but in fact attempts to make subdividing a success have fallen flat.

          1. Daryl Hunter Avatar

            It is pretty scenic in every Rocky Mountain Valley Ralph from Canada through much of New Mexico. Sure on the periphery there is some that will only appeal to arid country lovers and I’m sure there aren’t very many of them LOL, see popularity of of the crap holes of much of the southwest. Nice rationalization though.

          2. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue

            One of the problems inherent with subdivision would be water usage. Cattle may use up quite a bit of water, but most likely, not as much as subdivided areas with people who will want lawns, pools, golf courses, spas… times many…not enough water to go around, where water is a rare and precious commodity.

      2. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

        Where do many of these new subdivisions come from? They come from the ranchers who sell land to make a hefty profit.
        If ranchers want to graze livestock, let them do it on private lands. They do not belong on public lands, even though they think of these lands as “theirs.” Increasingly, people are sick and tired of these public lands moochers (who get numerous subsidies), grazing the hell out of our wild public lands–and then demanding that Wildlife Services (aka Animal Damage Control) slaughter wolves, coyotes, mountain lions & millions of other native animals.The 1860’s livestock mentality has to go. The native wildlife need these lands to survive, and they will, in a Public Lands Domesticated Feed Lot.

        1. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

          Correction in last sentence:”The native wildlife need these wild lands to survive, but they will not, in a Domesticated Public Lands Feed Lot.”

  2. Brett Haverstick Avatar
    Brett Haverstick

    Hope you submit this as on Op-Ed in papers around the West. Thanks Travis.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Brett Haverstick,

      It was in the Magic Valley Times-News, I see.

  3. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    “Ever notice how the private ranches are nice and green, and the public lands above them are often beat to dust and chocked full of weeds?”

    Do you think the fact that those nice and green private ranches are typically located in the more productive valley bottoms and sometimes are irrigated whereas the public lands in the more arid and unproductive (i.e rocky, poor soil) areas may have something to do with it?

    When people “own” something they are prone to invest in it. Ranchers do not own public land and although they are required to meet grazing terms and conditions stipulated by the BLM and Forest Service, they would be foolish to invest their capital.

    BTW, I have seen significantly more abused private lands than public lands since private lands are subject to much less environmental regulations (i.e Clean Water Act, proper functioning riparian condition).

    1. Jay Avatar

      Of course they’re irrigated, often times to the detriment of the tributaries that are dewatered and no longer viable for fish passage. They’re also much better cared for than the public lands–not weed infested, overstocked and overgrazed.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        “often times to the detriment of the tributaries that are dewatered and no longer viable for fish passage”

        + 1 Jay.

        Got one of those tributaries near me and its criminal to see what they look like after haying season.

      2. Zeewolf Avatar

        Jay – I would agree that some of the private lands are better managed than the public lands but not all. I also belief that it depends on what you are managing for. Here in my part of the world the sage grouse have had much of there sagebrush steppe habitat converted into irrigated lands. They might be nice and green and pretty to look at but they are a ecologically unproductive monoculture that grows primarily timothy grass, a non-native weed.

        As far as overstocked and overgrazed, that just depends. I have seen numerous operations that are just that. So overgrazed that even the sagebrush has been eaten back. Especially in the poorer counties of Colorado the land is grazed down to the roots of the grass.

        While the tragedy of the commons might apply to the public lands, there is at least, in theory, the potential for oversight from the agencies. There is no such oversight on the private lands and if the individual rancher sees fit to do so that land will turned from lush grass to a desert in a couple of generations, or sooner.

        1. Jay Avatar

          I agree, private pastures growing forage species are not wildlands, but from the standpoint of grazing and weed control, they are generally in far better shape than public grazing lands. And no doubt there are some abused private lands, but I would venture a guess that’s its a very small percentage compared to public.

          1. Zeewolf Avatar

            It would seem that we are both engaging in speculation based on our own observed anecdotal evidence. Perhaps a study has been published comparing the relative states of health on public and private lands. And if not, then perhaps a study ought to be conducted.

            1. Nancy Avatar


              I only have to walk around my small piece of property (which hasn’t been grazed in 20 years) and see the negative impact grazing has on the landscape, when I compare my land to the land next door, which has had cattle on it for years.

              Most of the ranch property next door to me, is under sagebrush (and no doubt, happily kept that way for the subsidies $, something to do with conservation?)

              But its confusing since nothing is conserved, the grasses are eaten down by cattle and the landscape is pretty much gutted after a couple of months.

              And then this ranch also gets the additional profit $$ from lease cattle, moved on to the property by June till the end of August. (the cows were just moved off today, thankfully) And those cows pretty much left nothing in the way of grasses/habitat for wildlife.

              But hey its private land, right? That we taxpayers pay for in subsidies……

              Heard thru the grapevine yesterday a local rancher (who takes advantage of the incredibly low, low grazing fees on forest service land every year) was whining about the fact that Forest Service didn’t notify him about a fire that was burning close to his grazing allotment.

              Hello? Dumping your cattle in to forests for months and it should come with some inherit risks I would think.

              Interesting how ranchers always seem to know where a wolf pack might be active….. but not a forest fire?

              1. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                “Interesting how ranchers always seem to know where a wolf pack might be active….. but not a forest fire?”

                Now that right there is funny, in a sad kind of way.

              2. Immer Treue Avatar

                “Interesting how ranchers always seem to know where a wolf pack might be active….. but not a forest fire?”


              3. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

                Yes. “His” grazing allotment, which he feels he “owns.” With Climate Change now affecting everything, the last refuge for native animals is western public lands, without livestock.


  4. Dallen Davies Avatar
    Dallen Davies

    I’ll leave this right here..

    1. Outdoorfunnut Avatar

      Very powerful video. I find it interesting that he had a preconceived view of cattle and did a 180. My moderate connection with cattleman of the west tells me they have been doing some of this for eons. This is not new.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Dallen Davies and outdoorfunnut,

      Alan Savory is wrong, but the reason why folks might agree with him after seeing this is due to the psychological attraction of an idea that you can have your cake and eat it too.

      It also depends on a person not having any close understanding of the natural features of American deserts and semi-arid lands. He is completely wrong about the nature and effects of “soil crusts” (cryptogamic soils).

      Savory’s work was done in Africa.

      Immediately after this TED talk was given, I wrote a long critique of it for THe Wildlife News.

      Alan Savory gives a popular and very misleading TED talk March 18, 2013 by Ralph Maughan

  5. Jay Avatar

    In a roundabout way, you’re making my point for me:

    “…the public lands in the more arid and unproductive (i.e rocky, poor soil) areas may have something to do with it?”
    –in other words, poor range that shouldn’t be grazed to the extent it is, which is creating vast areas of cheatgrass, knapweed, etc., infested public lands

    “…although they are required to meet grazing terms and conditions stipulated by the BLM and Forest Service, they would be foolish to invest their capital.”
    –in other words, tragedy of the commons–no incentive for them to take proper care of public land because its so cheap that they don’t feel the need to make any expenditures to maintain it in native condition, and cows are more than happy to eat cheatgrass

    1. Dallen Davies Avatar
      Dallen Davies

      You can interpret it how you want. I won’t take that freedom away from you. I grew up on a ranch in southeastern Oregon, and work closely with many of the ranchers in the area. My intention was only to provide evidence of how planned grazing is the only way to REVERSE the degradation that has taken place. Many are doing just that, and it’s unfair for this article to act as though grazing is the exclusive cause of the fires in this area or any other. They happen, to no fault of anyone.

      1. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

        Yes, Alan Savory’s snake oil medicine promise of “everything for everybody” (as long as you follow his mantra? Trouble is, it didn’t work in Africa either–except it made him a lot of money. This is Savory’s religious mantra about how to “mimic nature” which is an insult to nature, and he just ignores the intrinsic importance of Native Wild Animals, by replacing them with his Domesticates. But this preacher is excellent at doing what he does best: slick marketing to shallow-thinking, myopic humans, looking to solve ecological problems caused by human “management”–with the Savory Method, of more “management.” Ultimately, Nature, under Savory, becomes a Domesticated Feed Lot, where humans are the most important entity, as usual.

  6. buck Avatar

    I’m sorry travis but what you’ve written here is a load of hogwash, your promoting an unrealistic concept of how livestock forage as well as the ranges ability to keep it’s forage cycle. look i know you have an agenda and a preconceived notion you wish to promote here, but really……is it worth going to such lengths to do it ??. here’s a far more truthful take on the matter :

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      I think Travis wrote his article because he had read articles like we see in the link you provided. He wanted balance. The cattle operators always seem to get preference in the media with their story.

      I agree that grazing this year did not cause or contribute to the Soda Fire. However, I think grazing is a huge background cause because it causes the spread of cheatgrass. It is an over time thing.

      1. Cheat grass is not native and it burns like crazy because it is such a fine fuel.

      2.Cheat grass invades where native grasses are weakened. Cattle much prefer native grasses and they only eat cheatgrass for the brief period when it is green. It goes to seed very quickly. That is why it is called “cheat.”

      3. Improper grazing, and there has always been a lot of it, weakens the native grasses. Native grasses are often still green in August. On ungrazed national forest where I live, I have seen native grasses resist fire even in early September.

      4. Cattle also spread cheatgrass directly on their bodies, and they trample the sharp pointed seeds into the ground from June through August, serving to plant them perfectly with a slight depression around the seed to capture late summer fall rains.

      5. Once cheatgrass takes over, it maintains itself through fire and by outcompeting struggling native grasses by grabbing the moisture from the winter quickly in the early spring. Cattle are not needed to maintain the cheatgrass monoculture. Once in control, it lasts forever.

  7. meg Avatar

    This is such a load of crapt. Does Travis not know that there are probably enough wildlife to equal the amount of livestock. The wildlife also contributes to the spread of non native grasses far more then cows. A wolf may not eat it but will carry it in its coat picking it out while it trots along. A bird eats the seeds or uses it to build nests that blow and scatter in the winds. An elk deer mountain goat big horn sheep or antelope along with various forms of rodents and scavengers eat the grass then poop the seeds back out scattering them wherever they go or hiding them for later also spreads these non native grasses. So no blaming the cows has nothing on what wildlife can do. How the hell do you think it got spread in the first place. Telling a rancher or farmer there livestock are ruining the lands is like asking a bird to fly. Most ranchers I know like to preserve the wildlife as much as possible. We aren’t people from some city out here trying to justify what people from the city know nothing about. We are people when do hunt and conserve our lands so city people may come out and look at the lands that once stood where your cities are. A city produces far more toxins and heat and bad stuff than any ranch farm or livestock ever could. No the fires don’t burn faster becomes of the cows. That is just a new kind of stupid. And to put that out there without real facts or feedbacks or actually study or just plain living among the wild and livestock for research is even more assanine. That is assuming stuff and we all know what that does.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Your excuse is typical of ranching areas — “It wasn’t the cattle. The damn elk ate all the native grass and left caved in stream banks!”

      Wildlife can only do this is a few unusual places like Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone.

      Does anyone think conditions in the Owyhee are due to large grazing non-bovine animals?

      People with Western Watersheds spend thousands of hours in the field. In my experience they know far more about the kinds of grasses, the forbs, the seasonal conditions from one year to the next, who is overstocking their grazing allotment, who put their cattle out before the turnout date on their grazing permit, who brought the cows back late in the year.

      There are not folks sitting at desks all year.

      I can image the cattle will be back on the range in the area of the Soda Fire well before the remaining native grass can recover from the fire, and that is one more reason why cattle grazing as it exists leads to cheatgrass and blazes.

      1. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

        Thanks, Ralph, for your comments. As western forests burn, many areas will not grow back, due to Climate Change. After the terrible 2011 Las Conchas Fire in the NM Jemez Mtns.,burned more than 150,000 acres, and USGS scientist, Craig Allen (who has been studying the Santa Fe National Forest for 30 yrs)says “these forests will not return. Scrub bushes will take over. And the ranchers will be able to move in and take over even more public lands, turning them into more Domesticated Feed Lots–and more mega-fires

      2. Dan Avatar

        Ralph if you are under the impression that Western Watersheds is the all knowing and not agenda driven then you are a special kind of stupid. No matter what the grass, when dry it burns cheat grass is the first to go dry as is June grass(native) June grass is also fine stemmed both need to be eaten early in the season to reduce fire fuel. Native and bunch grasses that are left ungrazed and catch fire are some of the fasted and hottest fires because of the amount of old overgrowth and the amount of fuel available for it to burn. Until you have been on the fires and seen the difference between how they burn and what they do you have no right to sit on a forum and spread a bunch of opinions about something you truly know nothing about. Secondly the Sage Grouse was decimated in Idaho due to the West Nile, not grazing, in fact the Sage Grouse prefers more open country to strut and hatch. I have found them nesting some pretty crazy places but always with a clear view to avoid danger.

      3. Sonny Avatar

        I have never read such backward thinking in my life as I have today. If the cows do not eat the grass, whether it be cheat grass or native bunch grass it has many negative affects on the ecosystem. The most immediate impact it has on the ecosystem is large out of control fires that burn the native grasses which are replaced by cheat grass. And you can’t blame the cows for the new upstarts of the cheat grass because the cows aren’t allowed back on public land for two growing seasons after a fire. Ranchers also play a huge roll in detecting and stopping wildfires before the get out of control. The other huge benefit cattle bring to the ecosystem is keeping native bunch grass, for example, from having three years worth of plant life stuck to it. This left over plant matter chokes the grass down making it harder and harder for new sprouts to break through the old growth. Grazing keeps the grass healthy the fires small, and saves wildlife. Look up sage grouse numbers and cattle numbers. Both have decreased at the same rate. When cows bottom out so will sage hen, then you’ll ask yourself; “What could I have done?” The answer is listen to the ranchers the people who have studied the ecosystem day in and day out. Graze it, log it, or burn it.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Sonny you wrote:

          “I have never read such backward thinking in my life as I have today. If the cows do not eat the grass, whether it be cheat grass or native bunch grass it has many negative affects on the ecosystem.” [the boldface of your comment my doing]

          OK, you are wrong right at the start. I say.

          Many animals, not just cows, eat native grasses. This includes rodents and insects. Cattle, of course, eat a lot of grass; but native herbivores would benefit if the cattle left some native grass in areas where the elk, deer, etc. are food limited.

          Unfortunately, cattle don’t eat nearly enough cheatgrass although their owner often tries, and the cattle are willing before it begins to develop its sharp, barby, seed head.

          The reason is that cheatgrass matures too quickly for cattle to usually eat much of the damn stuff.

          If you look at cheatgrass monocultures or near monocultures on the range in July or August, they usually appear to be ungrazed (even if it was grazed heavily). This is because it fills in and set trillions of seeds after the cattle refuse to eat it because it is maturing. I have done my own experiments mowing green and ripening cheatgrass(to mimic heavy grazing).

        2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan


          Please read Reisner, Michael D., et al. “Conditions favouring Bromus tectorum dominance of endangered sagebrush steppe ecosystems.” Journal of Applied Ecology 50.4 (2013): 1039-1049 — at least the abstract and the conclusions.

  8. Nick Sheedy Avatar
    Nick Sheedy

    This article is absolute lunacy, and just laughably absurd! Well, it would be laughable, except other belligerent people read it and apparently believe the idiotic nonsense. I am all for a balanced outlook, but when I read garbage like this, it just makes me wonder where in the world people get these crazy ideas. The “solutions” that the author suggests (“passive restoration” and the “removal of livestock”) is just beyond stupid. Ralph’s statement that “The cattle operators always seem to get preference in the media with their story.” is equally absurd. The only thing that is even close to accurate is Mr. Maughan’s observations about Cheatgrass.

    1. timz Avatar

      “This article is absolute lunacy, and just laughably absurd! Well, it would be laughable, except other belligerent people read it and apparently believe the idiotic nonsense. I am all for a balanced outlook, but when I read garbage like this, it just makes me wonder where in the world people get these crazy ideas.”

      Exactly how I feel when I read all the anti-wolf stuff.

      1. Immer Treue Avatar

        “Exactly how I feel when I read all the anti-wolf stuff.”


    2. Yvette Avatar

      What are your reasons for believing these solutions are absurd and stupid?

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “On a area of cheatgrass nearby, Roundup herbicide was aerially applied in May 1998, at one pint per acre rate. The cheatgrass had just developed seedheads and the Japanese brome was in the boot phenological stage. The spring moisture was above normal. The cheatgrass and Japanese brome were killed

      **along with some perennial grasses because of the high application rate.

      The area was not rested from livestock grazing”

      “In summary, perennial grasses have increased and cheatgrass has decreased in all treated and controlled areas during the last ten years

      **with the exception of the herbicide treated area”

      What am I missing here Gary?

  9. Gar Avatar

    Hi Travis. Can you please cite your sources?

  10. Doug Avatar

    Fact: Colorado State University cites that one of the very best biological controls for downy brome (cheat grass) is ” heavy grazing 2x in the early spring for several contiguous years” resulting in a significant decrease of fuel (cheat grass). RE: Colorado State University

    As a Farmer & Rancher that has helped lead an Industry to better water quality and reduced soil erosion, and having dealt with cheat grass for over 35 years by implementing both Science and USDA-ARS Research… I can only say to this young man, “methods such as these are referred to as: “common sense”.

  11. Steve Damele Avatar
    Steve Damele

    Travis. Would you please post how much money wwp has received from the federal government through the equal protection to justice act. There are reports of wwp attorneys charging over $600 per hour. wwp is non profit if I understand correctly, but looks to me like they are government subsidized through all the litigation they are involved with. Also remember the murphy complex fire. Over 600,000 acres burned almost 1-2 years after wwp successfully litigated blm regarding tnr. For those who don’t know what tnr is, temporary nonrenewable aums. It allowed the blm to increase livestock use when forage was off the charts. I believe some permits in favorable forage years were able to use twice or more than preference aums. Grass is a renewable resource. Flexability needs to be in place with grazing permits. Some years when moisture and soil temp. are favorable for abundant forage there needs to be more aums allotted. Other years less. It’s not rocket science, but maybe it is. You have to get out of the court room and on the ground hands and knees looking at plants.

    1. Jay Avatar

      ” Flexability needs to be in place with grazing permits.”
      Sounds great in theory, but ranchers are businessmen, and they don’t want to build their herds up to be able to graze x amount of grass, but told they only have y available in down years. That means finding alternative range, or buying expensive hay. Also, they don’t like being told they can’t put out as many cows as they feel like they should–you just have to look at the revolt on BLM allotments in Nevada to see what the result is when told AUM’s are being cut back.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Steve Damele,

      I am not Travis, but I know that Western Watersheds has collected very little money from the federal government from the Equal Access to Justice Act.

      This is an explanation for WWP’s success promoted by many who don’t like the organization’s legal success.

    3. timz Avatar

      They can always use some $$. Why don’t you send them a few bucks?

  12. Teri MacGill Avatar
    Teri MacGill

    Cattle don’t graze the grass down to the roots … like your lawn, the grass grows right back up. They do crunch down some of the undergrowth — a practice which actually decreases the fuel in the forests. Thinning out diseased trees also decreases fuel. All of these help to slow wildfires, which preserves habitat. Instead of seeding a holy war and digging into old established positions, how about looking at the current climate, practices that were in place before the “don’t do anything” overreaction (and the critters were abundant and managing to live quite well before then — I remember salmon so thick the rivers and creeks were gray with them). Wildfires as big as these have been the past couple of years destroy entire biomes, and threaten habitat for the entire ecosystem.

  13. Ken Cole Avatar

    Here is a reference to a paper that does a pretty good job at explaining the role that livestock play in cheatgrass invasions.

    Reisner, Michael D., et al. “Conditions favouring Bromus tectorum dominance of endangered sagebrush steppe ecosystems.” Journal of Applied Ecology 50.4 (2013): 1039-1049.

    1. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      Excellent paper!

  14. Chuck Gallup Avatar
    Chuck Gallup

    I live in the geographical center of the Okanogan Complex Fires. I’ve fought wildfires here. Before reporters, before ranchers, before farmers, before writers……fire was an integral part of the landscape. The Okanogan would burn every year. Smokey The Bear, in typical government fashion has it all wrong. Fire is essential!
    I don’t know if the writer has actually seen a wildlands fire, fought a wildlands fire or lived in wildlands country but farmers, ranchers and loggers are about the best thing that can happen in the forest.
    We would do well to let the loggers, farmers and ranchers fight the fire and let The DNR, The Forest Service, and BLM volunteer.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan