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Grazing on the BLM

All over the high desert of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona you will come across signs like this:

We encountered this one just after emerging from the top of the Moki Dugway. You’ll notice that there is not much grass for the cows to eat here. Indeed, the image above comes from one of the “lushest” places around. The simple and short point of this post is not to discuss the economic and environmental impacts of allowing ranchers to graze their cattle in these areas at “fees” that are substantially below what they would be on private lands, but rather to relay to you a brief interaction friends of ours had with BLM Land Managers.

Our friends (and some of our family) had camped in an open camping area here:

The BLM Manager fined them for having so many people in the place. He argued it was too “high impact” to have this many people in one spot. That may or may not be true. But these folks had porta-potties trucked into this area to make sure they were not using the area as a bathroom. They packed everything in and out. And even if there were 10 times more of them, they collectively would not have had the impact that a single cow had on this place. We hiked down to an old creek-bed which was moist, and we had to dodge more cow dung than we did rocks, and any thing that resembled green vegetation had long been trampled and eaten. Now, I am sure these folks had some impact, but this policy seemed awkward at best. We’ll blog about public land policy in the future. I also wanted a reason to show you an image from where my little brother had his wedding.

4 Responses to “Grazing on the BLM”

  1. chuck martel says:

    Public lands management is a hot-button topic in the American West, as it should be. First of all, there is no justification, constitutionally or otherwise, for the immense land holdings of the federal and state governments in the west. States added to the union since its inception have a much higher percentage of government-owned property than the original thirteen, which makes them lesser entities than their senior counterparts. This property should be sold to private interests. Ranchers especially, who buy grazing rights on federal and state lands, complain about the policies and regulations that negatively affect their operations. Yet they aren’t particularly interested in owning the land outright, which would be more expensive for them than paying cow/calf grazing fees.

    Additionally, government agencies in places like New Mexico and Utah aggressively enforce regulations hatched back in D.C., geographically, economically and culturally in another galaxy. The introduction of the Mexican gray wolf to Arizona is a great example of a program initiated from afar that has a direct and unwanted impact on residents that have lived in an area for generations. Here is another example: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2010/11/bison-and-bureaucracy.html

  2. Harry says:

    Damn anyone who tried to mar your little brother’s wedding.

    Wintercow teases us with glimpses of his trek, which we infer went south.

    Wintercow’s commentary about dodging cow flops not his own raises the question about the commons, which is a question hardly examined by Progressive economics professors. This speaks to Chuck’s point, which no doubt will be handled in future Wintercow posts.

    I knew people who grazed cattle, horses, and mules on federal land on the Green River near Rock Springs. Very sorry farmland. The land they owned just outside the park in Jackson Hole had irrigation ditches that watered their own grass. Damn sodbusters.

    I never saw a sign like the one in your picture. How much effort and money was spent to deface the landscape like that? If I were a Riker, instead of riding my horse through the sodbuster’s pond and garden, I would tear the thing down, and hire Wilson to shoot the next crew who tried to put up a silly sign with flags.

  3. Harry says:

    Did your little brother select a place that was devoid hits on your map? He could have found a place in Sausilito, or Yemen.

  4. Harry says:

    BTW, my compliments to your guest bloggers, who helped readers of your blog to keep our minds engaged.

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