Grant County ranchers fear financial hit from court-ordered loss of grazing territory

By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian January 30, 2011 [here]

John Day, Oregon - Rancher Ken Brooks is standing in his ranch yard near the ghost town of Fox , his eyes sweeping the timber-covered Malheur National Forest that holds the key to his future and that of 18 other Grant County ranching families.

“They’re all pretty angry,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat. We’re unsure what we’re going to do. And most of all, we’re unsure of the reason we have to do it.”

A December 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty prohibits the ranchers from turning their cattle out on seven summertime U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments to protect threatened Middle Columbia River steelhead.

The latest decision in a years-long battle over the effects of grazing on stream habitat bans cows on 16 percent of the 1.7 million-acre forest, which has one the largest grazing programs of any forest in the Pacific Northwest.

The ban starts in June and would affect almost 4,000 mother cows and their annual calf crop valued at $2.8 million, ranchers and forest officials said.

Environmentalists [The Oregon Natural Desert Association, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project] who filed the steelhead lawsuit said the Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service must do a better job enforcing laws to preserve stream banks from roaming cattle. …

But outside the courtroom, Grant County is bracing for the economic repercussions, said county Commissioner Boyd Briton.

“There are families involved, there are employees,” Briton said. “All those cows, the feed stores, the Les Schwab tire store downtown, the grocery stores; it affects all of us.” …

The county already is coping with unemployment higher than 14 percent. The 19 ranchers affected by the judge’s decision represent about 20 percent of those who hold grazing permits on the Malheur.

The overall hit from the ban, perhaps 60 jobs, is the equivalent of losing roughly 7,000 jobs in Multnomah County, said Mark Webb, Grant County commission chairman. … [more]

Note: Last July the El Paso Corporation announced a $20 million contract between the company and the super-litigious environmental groups involved above. El Paso will pay $15 million over 10 years to the Western Watersheds Project and $5 million will be paid to the Oregon Natural Desert Association. See [here, here, here, here, here]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

1 Feb 2011, 12:45pm
by R.L.

Now isn’t this just peachy? Another listed species that requires special favor that is detrimental to ranchers and the local economy.

Another justification to revise the ESA to include the impact on the people and economy before anything is listed.

How long has that fish been there? Probably longer than anyone can remember and has survived droughts, forest fires, etc. and it is endangered?

As my Dad used to say, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”



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