Owyhee County, Idaho Rancher Gets a $24,651 Bill for 2012 Livestock Trespass!

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Western Watersheds Project’s work to help document ongoing trespass livestock has paid off!

WWP staff (Katie Fite and Ken Cole) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) documented a single rancher’s trespass cattle throughout the 2012 season. After receiving three trespass notices for having cattle on several allotments in the Juniper Mountain area of southwestern Owyhee County, an Owyhee County rancher agreed to pay $24,651 in trespass grazing fees and administrative costs.

The trespassing rancher, Jack Payne, is the owner of the C Ranch in Owyhee County and owner of Nevada Livestock Marketing in Fallon, Nevada. The BLM first observed his trespassing livestock on the Trout Springs and Pole Creek allotments on July 20th, 2012.  Payne did not have a permit to graze cattle on either of these allotments; the Trout Springs allotment had been completely closed to grazing since 2008 after another rancher lost his permit due to repeated willful trespass violations.  Some of Payne’s cattle also remained on the Bull Basin allotment long after the July 15 permit deadline for removal adding to the unauthorized use violations. In total, Payne’s trespass cattle were found on four allotments: Trout Springs, Pole Creek, Cliffs and Bull Basin.

WWP obtained documents about the trespass through a Freedom of Information Act request and there were records of conversations between the BLM and Jack Payne wherein the rancher complained that livestock were difficult to manage on these heavily-forested-with-juniper allotments.  Cattle would often escape detection or quickly disappear into the dense junipers when being rounded up.

This echoes complaints made by Western Watersheds Project. These lands are unsuitable for livestock grazing.  Redband trout streams on the allotments have suffered severe degradation and any recovery made on the Trout Springs allotment was lost with just this one season of trespass.  In addition, there is little livestock forage available after decades of abusive livestock grazing on these landscapes.

Unfortunately, trespass and general lawlessness is a common aspect of livestock grazing in Owyhee County.  Cattle have been observed illegally grazing in the general area for many years by Western Watersheds Project staff but outside political forces have undermined BLM decision-making. We hope that one day livestock grazing will end in this remote, arid and important landscape and be replaced with healthy streams and healthy wildlife habitat.

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