The 2004 RangeNet meeting held in Albuquerque November 11-13 was sponsored this year by WWP's co-National Public Lands Grazing Campaign member group, Forest Guardians (http://www.fguardians.org). The conference was very successful.
WWP would like to express thanks to the Forest Guardians staff for their good efforts with a special thanks to Rosie Brandenberger and Billy Stern for their hard work organizing the conference this year.
Among the conference high points was a debate between Courtney White of the Quivera Coalition (http://www.quiviracoalition.org/), a New Mexico based group that supports helping ranchers become better stewards of public and private lands, and WWP Advisory Board member, George Wuerthner.
George effectively used Courtney White's own slides to question White's message that ranching is compatible with arid western public lands. George's success in this panel was one of the high points of this year's conference.
Another high point was the keynote talk by Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva from Tucson who explained in detail why he is co-sponsoring the federal legislation proposed by the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign to offer public lands ranchers a generous buy-out of their grazing permits in order to permanently retire federal grazing allotments on federally managed lands. Congressman Grijalva's talk was an excellent overview of why the bills need to pass.
Interested readers may review copies of the Arizona and National buy-out bills at the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign's web site: http://www.publiclandsranching.org. The bills now have more than twenty co-sponsors each in the House of Representatives. More than 220 public lands ranchers in Arizona alone support the Arizona specific buy-out legislation.
WWP also especially enjoyed the "oldtimers" panel with grazing luminaries Steve Johnson, Jane Baxter, Jim Fish and Brett Matzke, all ably moderated by Sam Hitt. Thanks to all of them for their work over the years.
On Friday November 12, 2004 Jon Marvel, WWP executive director, was honored to announce the award this year to John Horning, the executive director of Forest Guardians, for his exceptional work to "Bring the Rule Of Law To Public Lands Ranching".
John has been actively working on the issue of public lands ranching for more than a decade first with the National Wildlife Federation and now with Forest Guardians. His efforts have been instrumental in making major positive changes in how public lands are administered in the southwest.John is a worthy successor to the two previous award winners: long time grazing activist George Wuerthner in 2002 and RangeNet Founder, Larry Walker in 2003. Congratulations John!
Thanks to a very generous grant from the Escalante Wilderness Project, WWP will now be actively involved in advocacy and accountability efforts in southern Utah.
The grant will enable WWP to contract with Julian Hatch of Boulder, Utah to monitor public lands ranching administration on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, the Kanab Field Office of the BLM and the Dixie National Forest. Julian is a Utah native who has lived in Garfield County for many years and who brings an exceptional level of local knowledge and expertise to this work.
WWP looks forward to working with Julian to keep the federal land management agencies honest in southern Utah!
On November 20, 2004 WWP appealed two very large sheep grazing decisions on the Sawtooth National Forest: the North Fork-Boulder and Baker Creek Allotments decision and the Smiley Creek and Fisher Creek grazing allotments decision.
These four allotments cover over 150,000 acres of mostly forested land north of Ketchum, Idaho and show the effects of decades of abusive sheep grazing.
Among the appeal points are the failure of the Forest Service to use its own capability mapping of these allotments that shows that no more than 15% of the area of any of the four allotments is capable of sustaining grazing by domestic sheep!
Other points of appeal involve the failure to assess the impacts of domestic sheep on Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and the potential danger of disease transmission to humans from sheep, in particular Q fever which is an airborne bacteria (a. Rickettsia) that can infect humans by inhalation of dust containing domestic sheep waste.