Help Rescue 1.5 million Acres of the Public's Land from Being Turned into a Cattle and Weed Wasteland

Online Messenger #113

Jarbidge BLM Resource Management Plan Needs Your Scoping Comments


In past decades, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) purposefully destroyed vast areas of wild sagebrush habitats in the 1,4000,000 acre Jarbidge Field Office of southern Idaho by spraying, plowing and burning to eradicate sagebrush. BLM then planted exotic crested wheatgrass, shunned by native wildlife, as cattle forage. This was done to enable high stocking of cattle primarily owned by a handful of public lands ranchers - including billionaire J. R. Simplot and the Brackett family, who alone control grazing permits on nearly HALF the public lands in the Jarbidge F.O.

The Jarbidge Field Office extends from the Snake River in the north into the scenic high plateau foothills of the Jarbidge Mountains in Nevada, and from Salmon Falls Creek in the east to the Bruneau River in the west.

The landscape has been undergone massive industrialization for the sole benefit of the livestock industry. Well over 500 miles of livestock water pipelines and thousands of miles of fences have been constructed, tearing apart wildlife habitats. New roads then spring up wherever cattle facilities are bulldozed into the sagebrush.

The public lands of the Jarbidge have been industrialized for livestock grazing. As high stocking rates were imposed, cheatgrass and other weeds have expanded and thrived. The end result is large-scale wildfires, like the 200,000 acre Clover Fire in 2005 that swept through weed-clogged crested wheatgrass seedings as well as sagebrush communities. It cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in suppression and rehab costs.

Up to the present, most of the Jarbidge BLM lands have not been managed for "multiple use", but instead for a single use - for U. S. taxpayer-supported feeding of privately owned cattle.

Today many areas of the Jarbidge are in shambles, with sagebrush habitats greatly fragmented and wildlife populations in peril. Sage grouse have plummeted. pygmy rabbits persist in only a few tiny areas. Mule deer and antelope face loss of critical habitats and harsh competition with cattle that are even devouring the sagebrush that big game need to survive the winter. Native redband trout have been greatly reduced in cattle-trampled streams. Slickspot peppergrass and other rare plant habitats are being overrun by cattle-caused weeds.

A victory in WWP litigation in 2005 resulted in the Federal District Court finding BLM's violations of laws protecting the public lands and wildlife, and issued an injunction shutting down grazing. WWP, BLM and ranchers then reached a Settlement Agreement where grazing continued at reduced rates in native pastures. As part of the Settlement Agreement, BLM is preparing a new Resource Management Plan emphasizing SAGE GROUSE HABITAT NEEDS.


Please provide Scoping Comments as follows to turn the tide in these 1,400,000 acres of public lands. Portions of the Field Office, from Browns Bench to the Diamond A Desert and the scenic canyons, still contain intact sagebrush wild lands, but are greatly "at risk" of expanded degradation and weed invasion from livestock. Please include your email and mailing addresses on your comments to the BLM.

  • BLM must use best available science to balance uses, and protect all remaining sagebrush habitats to benefit watersheds, wildlife, recreation and other important uses of the public lands.
  • BLM must undertake focused Restoration actions to repair the damage caused by single-use management for livestock grazing and other disturbance, and re-connect fragmented habitats. Necessary Actions for Restoration and turning the tide in the Jarbidge include:
  1. Rest from livestock grazing,
  2. Reductions in cattle numbers,
  3. Retirement of livestock grazing from sensitive or "at risk" lands,
  4. Removal of damaging livestock facilities (fences, pipelines) and facility-linked roads,
  5. Re-seeding with locally adapted native species in areas of important habitats now fragmented by crested wheatgrass seedings and weedlands.

These are the "Five R's" - in contrast to BLM's "Four C's" which unfortunately have always translated into cows, cows, cows and more cows) for putting public uses back into management of the public lands of the Jarbidge! They are necessary to provide sustainable wildlife populations and functioning ecosystems on public lands.

  • BLM must establish large livestock-free reference areas, as well as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to protect sensitive, unique or "at risk" lands, and to provide for sustainable sage grouse populations, healthy watersheds and other important values.
  • BLM's plan must prohibit placement of energy projects, utility corridors or other development in sensitive and important wildlife and wild land habitats.
  • BLM must take better care of the wild horse Herd Management Area. Remove the fences that have carved it up into a series of tiny pastures, and reduce cattle conflicts.
  • BLM must establish conservative measurable standards of livestock use for grazed lands that trigger specific actions if standards are not met or other problems arise, and not rely on open-ended "adaptive management".

E-mail Comments by June 15, 2006 to: Attention: Aimee Betts

Or send them by surface mail to:

Aimee Betts
Jarbidge Field Office BLM
2536 Kimberly Road
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301

Comments will be accepted after June 15, but the sooner they are received the better.

A modest amount of BLM posted scoping information about the Jarbidge RMP process can be found at this URL:

Please contact WWP ( if you want to get involved on-the-ground in the Jarbidge Field Office area. We are making frequent site visits to collect information and document conditions, are meeting with and communicating our concerns to BLM, and would welcome your help, expertise or input!

Thanks for making your comments!