Thursday, September 01, 2016
Editorial: Rich County strikes right balance with grazing plan
If it seems like the wrangling over public lands in Utah is intractable, a handful of people in Rich County are showing us what success looks like on the ground.
And success looks pretty normal. It's not doing things as they've always been done, but it's also not the posturing and fist shaking that passes for political discourse these days. It's not a federal government calling all the shots from Washington, and it's also not cows and sheep chewing everything down to the dirt. Instead, success is some talking and a willingness to try something different.
In the case of Rich County, that something different means putting up a few fences and keeping more cows in a smaller area so the rest of the range can have more chance to bounce back.
If that seems too simple, then recognize that the ranchers have been doing things a certain way since the 1800s. Then as now, the ranchers didn't own the land, but they were pretty much left to their own.
Since then, layers of government and changing priorities have brought 29 ranchers to a point where they sat down with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration and the Rich County Commission to work out a system that leaves 70 percent to 80 percent of the land without cows at any time during the grazing season.
Even the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been pulled in, providing a $1 million grant to improve water quality and wildlife habitat by redirecting water to keep the cows out of streams.
It's enough government to make Cliven Bundy's head explode.
In their rush to take a slap at the Bundys and endorse collaboration as the answer to current controversies, the Salt Lake Tribune fails to note the rest/rotation system was originated by the ranching industry, the agencies have historically discouraged innovation, and the system will not work on all types of allotments in all areas of the West. .