Environmentalists Call for Fair Grazing Fees

Mike Hagen MHAGEN at OLYMPUS.NET
Mon Mar 15 13:02:46 EST 1999


Next thing you're going to be insisting on Licensed Cowboys...

I'll be the first to admit I don't know beans about beef.  But I do know
that  grazing has its place and what we're really fighting about is turf.
Enviro-opportunists have the same success flogging that horse as they do
flogging foresters. Why? Because most of their backing is from places where
beef comes wrapped in cellophane, just like wood comes from the warehouse
store.

I agree with you 90% that cattle grazing in wilderness areas is not that
great an idea. I've been there too and believe me there's nothing as
disgruntling as finding your watersources well sprinkled with cowflops or
meeting the obligatory bad tempered cow and calf pair.  And I've had the
uneasy experience of seeing why Muir called sheep "range maggots" .

 But what is a wilderness?  Pristine nature ALA 1400, 1880 or 1975?  Most of
the Sierra wilderness areas are summer range and have been since they
invented cattle, which predates backpackers a bit.  Or  maybe we should
"restore" them to 1400's condition. Know what that was?  I don't and that's
a real issue for restorationists.

But whats the problem? Steer exhaust in the wrong places?  Overgrazing the
sensitive meadows?  Hanging out in the riparian strip since its got a breeze
and green veggies?  Get a cowboy out there doing his job or set up
off-stream watering or reduce the numbers of cattle.  Or by gosh, do some
fencing. This ain't rocket science. Get that Ranger out there ranging.  Why
aren't they doing it? Cause we've economized them out of existance. Just
maybe you'll get a range tech out there to keep an eye on the situation but
that may only be a couple times per year.  And who's going to win the head
butting contest when the temp has to tell the old rancher to move his herd.

 Big industry isn't the only sector of the economy that's taken a hit in the
last decade.  Frankly I enjoy running into the Basque herders that still
follow their flocks  in summer and I like a wilderness (note I'm not saying
national park!) with real working people in it.
Mike H






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