Western Watersheds Project has just won an administrative appeal in Nevada, halting a BLM decision that would have renewed a grazing permit for Paris Livestock, a welfare rancher who subleases a BLM grazing permit held by Barrick Gold, the largest gold mining mega-corporation in the world. "Custom and Culture" indeed !
Often criticism of environmentally destructive public lands ranching is downplayed in the media and by industry groups who characterize public land ranchers as the "salt o' the Earth".
This Cowboy Mythology is pervasive across the country where the general public is led to believe that a majority of public lands are grazed by 'mom and pop', 'cowboy' operations whose business enterprise and "custom & culture" would be extinguished if not for their commercial use of our public lands.
The facts are otherwise; the top 10 percent of public lands grazing permit holders control a breathtaking 65 percent of all livestock on BLM lands and 49 percent of Forest Service lands. The bottom 50 percent of public lands grazing permit holders control a miniscule 7 percent on BLM lands and 3 percent on Forest Service land.
Much of your public land is grazed by the likes of Mary Hewlett Jaffe (heir to the Hewlett-Packard mega-fortune), who is the largest public land rancher in Central Idaho. The largest welfare rancher in the country is Simplot Inc., a multibillion dollar corporation headquartered in Idaho. Even huge international corporations like Barrick Gold, the largest pure gold mining company in the world, graze vast expanses of public land in Nevada, not because it is an economically viable enterprise, but because it is a politically prudent way for these international coorporations to 'buy-in' to the Cowboy Mythology and gain the political support of local county commissions who might otherwise resist these international companies' acquisition of water and control of land for their environmentally destructive mining operations.
WWP enjoys sending this little tap on-the-shoulder to Barrick Gold !