FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Zinke and the Welfare Ranchers: Subsidies for Us But Not for Thee

by

NASA just reported the drought in eastern Montana is so severe it is a once in a century event.

Not surprisingly, despite livestock grazing that some suggest could preclude large blazes, the drought in eastern Montana has spawned some recent wildfires, including the 270,000-acre Lodgepole Fire. The fire raced across grazed public and private pasture and rangelands.

Some ranchers who lost grass to the fire now must sell off their cattle, buy hay or seek out other private pastures for their cattle.

Unfortunately, some of these cowboys have requested the Dept of Interior to open Montana’s Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge (CMR) for grazing by their cows. And recently Secretary of Interior Zinke granted their wish and swung open the gate to grazing by their livestock.

It’s ironic that for the most part the livestock industry regularly belittles the government, welfare queens, and paying taxes—yet they are quick to call on the government to assist with taxpayer welfare.

I do not mind helping people who have been impacted by a natural event. That’s what government is for and should do—even people who complain about government all the time.

But allowing cattle to graze the CMR is the wrong solution. The CMR grass is needed more by native public wildlife than by privately owned cattle.

In a drought, wildlife must scramble to find food and cover. During drought, there is often as little as one third grass production. In addition, wildlife displaced by the Lodgepole Fire must also search further for food, and no doubt some will be heading to the CMR.

In addition, livestock grazing during droughts is more likely to help favor the spread of weeds by disturbing soils and consumption of drought weakened native places.

While the ranchers have other options from leasing other private pasture to buying hay to reducing their herds, wildlife has no other options.

Let’s give the ranchers affected by fire a helping hand—provide loans, give emergency assistance, bring in hay from other regions—but let’s not compromise the public’s wildlife by allowing cattle to graze the CMR.

These are public lands that belong to all Americans, and they should be managed to benefit all Americans. Allowing private businesses to expropriate the food and cover that otherwise is needed by the public’s wildlife is not in the public interest.

More articles by:

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. He serves on the board of the Western Watersheds Project.

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail