Monday, September 11, 2017

The ranchers’ side

...When the west was settled, the Federal Government encouraged development. The pioneers grazed their livestock in the mountains and homesteaded the valleys as it was necessary to live on and prove up on what a homesteader wished to gain title to. As development increased, grazing privileges were awarded based on priority. These documented privileges became known as grazing permits. They are bought and sold as real property. Since the mountains, for the most part, were never homesteaded, it remains under federal control, a fee is assessed, based on an economic formula, for the privilege to graze. The fee is not set by ranchers. In my opinion, it is too low.

If the majority of the people want livestock grazing banned from all public land, it will happen, but not without consequences. Livestock will then graze on private range and farmland; competing with barley grown for beer, feed for cows to produce milk, wheat, beans, potatoes, corn, etc.

If the alternative is to get rid of all livestock, beef and lamb now consumed will have to be replaced by pasta, bread and veggies and there won’t be enough to go around. If livestock are gone ranchers will be compelled to compete for your jobs and we will get more than our share because we know how to work...

...Several years ago, a neighboring elderly couple were burning weeds in their backyard. A wind came up and the fire got out of control. Neighbors came, one with a road grader, but were unable to control it. With the contemplation that it would soon be a major wildfire as it rapidly spread in three directions toward vast BLM and Forest Lands, all who had been trying to contain it looked on with helpless horror.

As the fire crossed the fence on to our ranch property, the flames became smaller and soon died out. Why? The terrain and vegetation were the same on both sides of the fence. Cattle and sheep had grazed on our side of the fence and eaten the top of the grass. The flames from the shorter grass now could not attain adequate height to spread.

This was before cell phones, but, oh, that a camera had been on hand. I wish every Idahoan, Reven every American, could have seen what we witnessed that day. Visual proof that livestock grazing retards wildfires.

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