Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Cows versus trout in the Eastern Sierra
With the summer grazing season in the Eastern Sierra coming to an end, he was preparing, perhaps for the last time, to move hundreds of cows out of the high country and into the Owens Valley. The 30-mile cattle drive from the Golden Trout Wilderness down to the village of Olancha is among the oldest in the state — and a cherished family tradition. "My grandfather began running cattle in these meadows in 1906," said Hunter, 47, a third-generation rancher in Lone Pine, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. "My outfit depends on grazing up here." But his right to continue using the land, inside the Inyo National Forest, is dependent on the outcome of a dispute over how best to protect the California golden trout. Genetically pure strains of the official state fish, with its bright yellow sides, scarlet belly and burnt orange fins, can be found in just 15 miles of streams that run through meadows near Hunter's grazing land. A large tract of the 300,000-acre wilderness next to Sequoia National Park has been cow-free since federal land managers in 2001 canceled Anheuser-Busch's grazing permits in an effort to heal meadows and streams that had been trampled by sheep and cattle since the late 1800s. (One of the world's largest breweries, Anheuser-Busch had taken over operation of an Owens Valley cattle ranch in 1988.) Federal officials also "rested" two allotments, totaling 88,000 acres, for 10 years in order to compare their recovery with conditions on two adjacent swaths of land — including that used by Hunter — where grazing was allowed to continue. With those rests set to expire this year, the U.S. Forest Service is studying three options: extend the experiment, eliminate grazing on all four allotments or forge an agreement with ranchers eager to run cattle over the rested meadows...more