Last week, Congress was scheduled to make some big decisions just after print time. Late Thursday or Friday, Congress was expected to pass a spending measure to avoid a government “shutdown”—or, more accurately, “slowdown”—and possibly a tax extender package.
Some farmers and ranchers in Northern California and southern Oregon think that both strategies are being used against them in the Klamath River watershed. In 2002, a federal judge granted the Klamath Tribes senior water rights in the Klamath Basin.
Can the states afford to own and manage the federal lands within their borders? The question is echoing across the West as several states make moves to transfer hundreds of millions of acres from Uncle Sam’s hands to the states’.
If a rancher receives cash payments in exchange for feeding his cattle or sheep to wolves, is he still a rancher? And what is a cow or a sheep truly worth? Ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico are being asked to support wolf populations on their ranches in exchange for payments from the “Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council.
“We worked hand-in-hand with FWS in good faith that our actions were going to prevent a listing,” said Colorado rancher and Public Lands Council (PLC) member, Robbie LeValley. “Producers have made a lot of big sacrifices—some of them permanent. The population is documented to be stable.
Thanks to a group of landowners and concerned citizens in southwestern Utah who took the federal government to court over prairie dog regulations, implementation of the ESA could see a nationwide change of course.
At a recent council meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, some 90 individuals from 14 states convened to discuss the prospect of transferring the majority of federal lands to state ownership. The federal government owns at least 30 percent of each state west of the Rockies—all told, about 50 percent of the West.