Let's talk grazing on public lands...

DIRTY HARRY

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Aug 5, 2021
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This thread is opening a can of worms, but I hope that enough knowledgeable biologists, hunters, grazers, etc. will chime in as to help us maybe find a solution to one of our largest issues... not enough public land/animals/tags.
To begin - I am a rancher - but I operate 100% on deeded land. I have many many friends that graze public - some are good stewards, more are poor stewards. But to be frank, I'm to the point where I am sick of seeing public land wildlife habitat overgrazed and abused by those who either don't know any better, are too tight to destock, or don't care anything about the wildlife.
For example - last year I spent multiple occasions on large tracts of public land in New Mexico. I saw 50k+ acres of prime deer and elk country completely wiped out by 2 different ranchers. They had never destocked through the drought and even still had cows stocked when there was nothing left to eat for them. Completely void of wildlife now. I find examples of this is pretty much every unit I have ever hunted. Abd I realize that there are a lot of good managers out there but that doesn't offset the bad.
Is it really the best use of our public land resources to allow one entity to profit off of it when it could inhabit much more wildlife and provide many more direct food opportunities for hunters. I just think our public land needs to be put back to use for the public and only use grazing when grazing is needed... not as grazing being the primary use.
What are others thoughts on this? May be limiting the number of live stock in areas would Help !
 

Deere83

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I’m sorry, I didn’t finish all the posts but by the time of 14:00 on my phone I’m really wondering how many freeloaders are complaining about working people who aren’t browsing the internet, ******* off while they’re trying to feed their families and you.
 

sasquatch

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Jul 26, 2015
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598
Almost all our problems are plain and simply from us starting to be wayyy over populated. The balance of nature is being thrown off.

Add in a government with a blank check and you have the perfect scenario for what’s playing out

We have simply got to a point where we can not operate off of a fair market system without subsidies. Or we can, but there’d be some pretty harsh consequences from it.

Consequences and realities that today’s soft hearts just couldn’t handle.

In Dubai, they even playing with Mother Nature to artificially make it rain!!

One day we will poke Mother Nature to the point she shakes us all off! All because we let our feelings get in the way of the realities of life!


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Pacific_Fork

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May 26, 2019
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498
Lol at feeding American families. The US has exported 1.4 BILLION pounds already in 2021 all the while importing 3 billion pounds a year mostly from Australia. We have the most ass backwards food system in this country. Also, go educate yourselves on how China is buying up our cattle ranch and farm lands. I dont know about you guys but I dont want any foreign country having control over agriculture in this country, especially when we are at extreme drought levels in the west. If i have to buy beef its from regenerative local ranches that dont over graze our public lands. My local rancher is the only one in the county that has a 1500 acre piece with 300 + head with year around tall native grasses. Ol timer ranchers just want to keep doing as theyve always done which is abusing the land in these times of drought. I work in the ag industry, which is all Ill say, and our way of ranching and farming in this country is an overall ecological disaster thats going to come to a head real soon in our lifetimes. Ive never seen a well managed gazing allotment on NF, Im sure they exist but they arent the norm in my experience. Something has got to change for public land grazing. Going into the high country just to see your favorite basin mowed down to the dirt and hear cow bells ringing 24 hours a day sucks. Makes me seriously tempted for some mountain high free ribeyes though!

I dont want to bash ranchers, they need help but I don't see any plausible solutions in the long run.
 

gelton

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May 15, 2013
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Central Texas
Shouldn't the grazing fees at least cover the cost to manage the land?
Depends on the "costs" and how they are derived, as I have attempted to point out earlier in the thread, cattle could prove to be a net benefit to the land and ecosystem if managed properly.
 

gelton

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May 15, 2013
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2,358
Location
Central Texas
Almost all our problems are plain and simply from us starting to be wayyy over populated. The balance of nature is being thrown off.

Add in a government with a blank check and you have the perfect scenario for what’s playing out

We have simply got to a point where we can not operate off of a fair market system without subsidies. Or we can, but there’d be some pretty harsh consequences from it.

Consequences and realities that today’s soft hearts just couldn’t handle.

In Dubai, they even playing with Mother Nature to artificially make it rain!!

One day we will poke Mother Nature to the point she shakes us all off! All because we let our feelings get in the way of the realities of life!


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Agree with almost all of these points except the overpopulated part, here in the west couples are averaging 1.2 children per household so we aren't even replacing ourselves and haven't been for decades.

But you make a good point about subsidies. People call this situation welfare when it isn't. Its subsidies. The government is losing money (aka paying people) to encourage outcomes.

I was born in the rice lands of TX along the coast. The government-subsidized rice farmers to not grow rice. As a result, one of the most waterfowl-rich areas in the U.S. was destroyed.

No different than when Reagan tried to protect sugar prices by subsidizing sugar farmers to the tune of $1.4 Billion to not grow crops in order to protect farmers in LA from falling prices. This resulted in the High Fructose Corn Syrup industry flourishing to the detriment of all of our and our family's health.

The problem that I continually see is people pointing fingers at each other instead of the real criminals.
 
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Cowbell

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I assume that you are familiar with the PRIME act sponsored by Thomas Massie? The monopoly created in part by the USDA of commercial packing operations is a big part of this problem and the PRIME act is a big part of the solution.

Transactions amongst free peoples should not require government intervention, regardless of processing regulations (USDA inspected facilities).

So once again, we have to look at the root of these problems, not the symptoms.
The meat packing monopoly is a whole other issue...
I dare say the number of people having an direct ability to retain any allotment is far less than the number that see the system for what it is.

I'd be interested to see the numbers of cattle grazed on public vs private and the effects it has on the market price.

Those bearing the full cost of a private cattle operations should be championing the reformation of public grazing practices into a much more competitive market.
Your last paragraph is the summation of what I'm leading onto. I am a conservationist (hunter) as well as a rancher and have been appalled at what I keep seeing on public lands.
 

sasquatch

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Messages
598
Agree with almost all of these points except the overpopulated part, here in the west couples are averaging 1.2 children per household so we aren't even replacing ourselves and haven't been for decades.

But you make a good point about subsidies. People call this situation welfare when it isn't. Its subsidies. The government is losing money (aka paying people) to encourage outcomes.

I was born in the rice lands of TX along the coast. The government-subsidized rice farmers to not grow rice. As a result, one of the most waterfowl-rich areas in the U.S. was destroyed.

No different than when Reagan tried to protect sugar prices by subsidizing sugar farmers to the tune of $1.4 Billion to not grow crops in order to protect farmers in LA from falling prices. This resulted in the High Fructose Corn Syrup industry flourishing to the detriment of all of our and our family's health.

The problem that I continually see is people pointing fingers at each other instead of the real criminals.

Us not replacing ourselves is what’s behind the big immigration pushes now days! That’s my opinion anyway

When you run on massive debt you rely on more consumers in the future to keep the can moving down the road. With us starting to level off our population growth the powers that be know their scheme is getting closer and closer to coming to light.


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Chucklehead

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Dec 21, 2015
Messages
265
@Chucklehead -

Since you seem to imply I'm talking smack and that my "anecdotal" story comes off as sour grapes, I'll back my smack with with reality.

Here's two out of dozens pics I took around that drainage of the aftermath of that rancher abusing his grazing privileges. I took these approx Sept 9 at about 9,500ft and before the snow hit, the plants the cows would not eat were still green, no heavy frost yet. The only plants left in that drainage were the ones the cows couldn't graze lower than their lips or the plants they wouldn't eat-- and that's after they ate most of the low branches off the younger aspens. Cow pies everywhere.

Makes the concept of "land stewardship" a complete joke. Let me know if you need more pics or higher resolution...

I stand by what I said: The Grinch himself would have left more grass than this rancher. I ran into a handful of old timers out there on mules and they said they'd never seen that valley look so devastated-- and they had not seen a single elk either.

If you think I have sour grapes, the elk and mule deer must be beyond pissed.

View attachment 314074 View attachment 314075

I'd rather pay more for beef than see this done to our national forests. Not a single wildflower in the entire drainage.

JL
I'm not here to debate what did or didn't happen in your one case. If the guy broke the law, report it.
I'm concerned with the overall policy. And If more oversight is in order lets figure it out.
There is a trend among "Public Land Owners" who think that things should be managed around their week in September. Not for the guys that are out their all year trying to scratch out a living and adding some value to the economy while doing so.
And while on the subject, ever see a prime basin that had great habitat no livestock and everything an elk or deer should need but was completely void of animals? I have. Know what the reason was? Tons of hunters. Should we throw ourselves off the land if thats the standard? Are elk and deer pissed about that too?

Go ahead and throw them all off and see where it gets you. Make an enemy of the ranching associations and beef check-offs. We'll be lucky to draw water out of a river by the time they are done with us. They have way more pull in the hallways of local and state government than any IPA sipping "conservation" group ever will. They would crush us.
 
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Cowbell

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Depends on the "costs" and how they are derived, as I have attempted to point out earlier in the thread, cattle could prove to be a net benefit to the land and ecosystem if managed properly.
The problem with ecosystem improvement is that it is an art and not a broad approach. There are not enough skilled land managers to pull this off successfully. And never will be. And a couple of poorly managed grazing years will set a parcel back decades. The country I saw in New Mexico this past year would take two decades to recover if all livestock were removed today.
 
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Cowbell

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I'm not here to debate what did or didn't happen in your one case. If the guy broke the law, report it.
I'm concerned with the overall policy. And If more oversight is in order lets figure it out.
There is a trend among "Public Land Owners" who think that things should be managed around their week in September. Not for the guys that are out their all year trying to scratch out a living and adding some value to the economy while doing so.
And while on the subject, ever see a prime basin that had great habitat no livestock and everything an elk or deer should need but was completely void of animals? I have. Know what the reason was? Tons of hunters. Should we throw ourselves off the land if thats the standard? Are elk and deer pissed about that too?

Go ahead and throw them all off and see where it gets you. Make an enemy of the ranching associations and beef check-offs. We'll be lucky to draw water out of a river by the time they are done with us. They have way more pull in the hallways of local and state government than any IPA sipping "conservation" group ever will. They would crush us.
I serve on national boards. You might need to educate yourself. Wildlife groups are king because they side with the environmental groups. Sage grouse issue is a prime example. Livestock groups have very little pull. Farmers, on the other hand, are a different story.
 

Chucklehead

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Your reading comprehension has failed you
You didn't say this?
"Taking cattle off of public lands will have little impact on cow-calf operations on private land. In fact, I would argue that it would create more price competition between packers which would actually help our industry."

You are a rancher no?
Don't think throwing certain operations off grazing leases wouldn't lead to the end of said operations?
Which intern lowers the supply of beef to packing houses. Causing a rise in prices due to lower supply. Thereby benefiting your operation.
Tell me where I'm wrong.
 
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Cowbell

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You didn't say this?
"Taking cattle off of public lands will have little impact on cow-calf operations on private land. In fact, I would argue that it would create more price competition between packers which would actually help our industry."

You are a rancher no?
Don't think throwing certain operations off grazing leases wouldn't lead to the end of said operations?
Which intern lowers the supply of beef to packing houses. Causing a rise in prices due to lower supply. Thereby benefiting your operation.
Tell me where I'm wrong.
It would also increase competition for private leases which would negatively effect me. But neither is the point I made in the thread start. This is about our best use of public lands for the public. Whether it's good or bad for me as a rancher has no influence on the issues I see as a steward of land that keeps seeing our lands abused when we need more wildlife habitat than ever.
 

Chucklehead

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It would also increase competition for private leases which would negatively effect me. But neither is the point I made in the thread start. This is about our best use of public lands for the public. Whether it's good or bad for me as a rancher has no influence on the issues I see as a steward of land that keeps seeing our lands abused when we need more wildlife habitat than ever.
It appears my reading comprehension is just fine then.
I do hope your motives are what you say. We'd be better off if all ranchers/farmers were that way.
 

Deere83

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Jan 30, 2016
Messages
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Western colorado
Lol at feeding American families. The US has exported 1.4 BILLION pounds already in 2021 all the while importing 3 billion pounds a year mostly from Australia. We have the most ass backwards food system in this country. Also, go educate yourselves on how China is buying up our cattle ranch and farm lands. I dont know about you guys but I dont want any foreign country having control over agriculture in this country, especially when we are at extreme drought levels in the west. If i have to buy beef its from regenerative local ranches that dont over graze our public lands. My local rancher is the only one in the county that has a 1500 acre piece with 300 + head with year around tall native grasses. Ol timer ranchers just want to keep doing as theyve always done which is abusing the land in these times of drought. I work in the ag industry, which is all Ill say, and our way of ranching and farming in this country is an overall ecological disaster thats going to come to a head real soon in our lifetimes. Ive never seen a well managed gazing allotment on NF, Im sure they exist but they arent the norm in my experience. Something has got to change for public land grazing. Going into the high country just to see your favorite basin mowed down to the dirt and hear cow bells ringing 24 hours a day sucks. Makes me seriously tempted for some mountain high free ribeyes though!

I dont want to bash ranchers, they need help but I don't see any plausible solutions in the long run.
We ran 500 aum on 55000 acres of national forest service for almost 4 months a year for 8 years and your local rancher must have had a beautiful ranch to support his 300 pairs year round with no outside feed or grazing.
 
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Cowbell

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It appears my reading comprehension is just fine then.
I do hope your motives are what you say. We'd be better off if all ranchers/farmers were that way.
Honestly the reason I bring this up on here is it has been on my heart since I first began spending time on public lands and I realized that the problems I see aren't necessarily obvious to others unfamiliar with proper grazing and ecosystem management. I feel it is my responsibility to stand up for what is right, especially on subject matter that I have experience and wisdom of.
 

Idaho_Potato

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Not worth calling anyone out directly, but so many people in this thread obviously driven by jealously over this issue. Jealous over ranchers who have public land leases, jealous over landowner tags you don't get. A good sign its time to take a look at your own position in life and how you got there. Way too many folks have been told it's OK to stand around with your hands out waiting for the government, or to point your finger at your neighbor and ask why you don't have the same opportunity.
 

eye_zick

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Idaho
"If the cost of beef goes up, so be it" Go tell that to the single mom who want to feed her kids hamburger helper for dinner and it costs $20 bucks for a package of ground... I'd re-think that mentality.

I've seen this sentiment several times on this post.

If the price of beef does go up so be it. We have the responsibility to be good stewards of the land. Cattle and sheep grazing cannot be done without externalities. The cost of beef will rise to capture the costs of these externalities.

Consider the effect the dams have had on the salmon. We literally traded cheaper power and effectively killed off the salmon. The IDFG has been saying for decades how public land grazing has negatively effected mule deer.

In 100 years people will look back on us with shame, we lacked the fortitude to make difficult decisions and thereby pushed them onto the following generation. There's no clear winner with either decision.
 
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Cowbell

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I've seen this sentiment several times on this post.

If the price of beef does go up so be it. We have the responsibility to be good stewards of the land. Cattle and sheep grazing cannot be done without externalities. The cost of beef will rise to capture the costs of these externalities.

Consider the effect the dams have had on the salmon. We literally traded cheaper power and effectively killed off the salmon. The IDFG has been saying for decades how public land grazing has negatively effected mule deer.

In 100 years people will look back on us with shame, we lacked the fortitude to make difficult decisions and thereby pushed them onto the following generation. There's no clear winner with either decision.
You get it. Most people don't realize that cattle and sheep are the main reason for a lack of lower elevation winter food. Livestock are the number one reason we need winter feeding grounds for deer and elk. The fact that they only graze a short period actually makes the management worse because most managers are not concerned with winter forage quality because that doesn't benefit them.
 
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