It has been a decade since the establishment of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Riparian-Wetland Initiative that declared, “Rangelands should be meeting the Standards for Rangeland Health or making significant progress towards the standards.” Development of the BLM’s 8 Idaho Standards for Rangeland Health and 20 Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management came in 1997- indicating that if standards are not being met, then allotment management must be adjusted.
National Forests have each been responsible for developing Forest Plans; the Sawtooth Forest Plan includes management directions intended to reduce or eliminate livestock conflicts with fish or wildlife in key habitats such as riparian areas, reduce conflicts on big game winter ranges, or to see that range improvements include the needs of wildlife. Annual Operating Instructions and other documents or “plans” are supposed to set terms and conditions for grazing on forest lands that protect resources.
In actuality what may often sound good on paper, in meetings, and in rhetorical statements to the public rarely reaches implementation at the field level. It has been hoped that by emphasizing and re-emphasizing actual riparian conditions existing on public land grazing allotments/pastures (being used by private individuals for private gain) would lead to management improvements by the respective administrative agencies. Unfortunately, there has been an ongoing failure of agency personnel to even admit that widespread problems exist, never mind to set about correcting or eliminating the problems.
The 2002 grazing season on lands reviewed by the foregoing report have provided little exception. It appears that not only are private operators reluctant (or unable) to follow terms or conditions, they may also be deliberately refusing to follow management directives. It also appears that the respective agencies administering livestock grazing on state or federal public lands (Idaho Department of Lands, BLM Burley Field Office, and Sawtooth National Forest) are either incapable of adequately managing the public resource (i.e. lack of educated or experienced personnel, lack of adequate numbers of personnel, lack of funding) and/or are refusing to adequately manage the public resource (i.e. allowing political whim to dictate actions, refusing to take action when resources conditions warrant, refusing to fulfill other legal management responsibilities).
It has become increasingly clear that these three state and federal agencies- IDL, BLM, and Sawtooth National Forest- are refusing to adequately address or consider other multiple resource values such as recreation, scenic, wilderness, fisheries/wildlife, research, or education. Current management and consistent failures to respond to public resource concerns clearly favors the one all-pervading, destructive, private consumptive use- that of domestic livestock grazing- on public lands in Cassia and Twin Falls Counties and for the included portions of Oneida and Power Counties. Such failure is in complete opposition to the public trust placed in these agencies and remains in direct opposition to the best interests of the citizens of Idaho and of the American people at large.