When Adrian Sewell of New Mexico made a big show of traveling to the besieged Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January to tear up his grazing permit and denounce the Forest Service, it was apparently just a big show. The “renegade rancher” has signed the Annual Operating Instructions (AOIs) and reportedly paid his 2016 grazing bill for the Walnut Creek allotment on the Gila National Forest, and in return, the Forest Service has increased his 2016 authorized use by 70 percent over last year’s numbers.

When pressed about Mr. Sewell’s public permit destruction, the Forest Service replied that he only tore up his copy. The agency still has the official copy in the files, and it doesn’t expire until 2022.

Mr. Sewell’s permit is indeed for a much higher stocking level than he’s been using since he acquired the permit in 2013. When asked in January, the Forest Service said that the reduced use was a result of some pending fence construction, but that fence construction has not yet occurred (as of this writing) and there is no explanation other than his histrionics to explain why Mr. Sewell was granted an additional 35 head on the same pastures this year.

That, and maybe because the Forest Service is a little bit scared of Mr. Sewell.



About The Author

Greta Anderson

Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project and lives on the land of the Tohono O'Odham and Yaqui people in what is now called Arizona. Greta's opinions and world views are not necessarily reflected in the posts of other authors on this blog.

5 Responses to Forest Service Increases Rogue Rancher’s Use by 70% for 2016

  1. Jim T says:

    This is another example of the Federal agencies creating the problems and being an enabler of the Sagebrush behaviors by these welfare ranchers. Sad. I do wonder what it would have taken to get Obama to get off his ass, and pay attention to Western environmental issues much less thuggery.

  2. Gail says:

    An outrage!

  3. Rich says:


    Thanks for the update on Sewell. Have there been any developments regarding Cliven Bundy’s cattle grazing illegally and without paying fees? Have there been any attempts to round them up or is the BLM still allowing them to run willy-nilly over our public lands?

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      It looks like they are going to go after his livestock and his property, but they are trying to figure out best to do it.

      It is time to clean up the entire Bunkerville mess! My opinion.

  4. Ida Lupines says:

    Wow. And this person was party to the 4 million dollars in damage at Malheur too. I’d say the Interior Dept. and USF&W are definitely ‘collaborators’, and not confronters. 🙁


March 2016


‎"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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