Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Stewards of the land" against state mandated "misuse of non-use"

Good background article on the conflict in Burns and in the west in general from the environmental perspective. It lists different endangered species involved. From our perspective, what counts more is the self perception of the ranchers as "the best stewards of the land" who manage their ranches in a way that benefits the land and the species more than the federal "misuse of non-use".

Kate Galbraith in San Francisco and Sarah Gilman in Portland (Guardian) {

The simmering tension between ranchers and the federal government is nothing new to the American west. The federal government manages enormous chunks of land, a holdover from the days of westward expansion.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, ranchers and other groups began a movement known as the Sagebrush Rebellion to lobby for more federal land to be transferred to state control. That effort continues today in states like Utah and Idaho.

The modern-day rebels have an even more radical wish: to transfer federal lands to private control.

Such a change could mean a “scorched-earth” situation for wildlife, said Dale Goble, a professor and land-use expert at the University of Idaho’s College of Law, who had gone birding in the refuge.

Rare species such as the greater sage grouse that does a mating dance on federal land adjacent to the Malheur national wildlife refuge, occupied by the militia, have already been harmed by widespread cattle grazing on high-desert plains across the west.

“If you’ve driven through the high desert of eastern Oregon, the distinction between private and federal [land] is often strikingly clear,” Goble said. Were the land to be transferred to private ownership, “the marshes and everything that attracts the migratory bird species – probably, my guess would be, used for irrigation”.


Ranchers across the west have a different view: They see themselves as the best stewards of the land, and the federal government as imposing onerous requirements.

Erin Maupin, a rancher near the refuge who visited the occupation this week, said government wildlife officials had no business controlling the land and have done a poor job of caring for the local environment. “More birds come to our ranches than here,” she said.

“Non-use is misuse,” she said. “We need to play an active role in managing this land. What’s best for the species is not to do nothing.”

Source = What will happen if the Oregon militia gets its demands? }

Greater Sage Grouse