Ranchers, get off public land

  Dear HCN,

As a former resident of Boise, Idaho, and having hiked, camped and hunted extensively for many years in the arid areas that are targeted by the Idaho Watersheds Project, in particular, southeast Oregon, southwest Idaho and northern Nevada, I agree 100 percent with their agenda. Get those *#@??*&^ cows OFF the public land! And, if necessary, get those ranchers OFF the public land, period. They have ruined it.

My wife and I have seen it all: sage grouse habitat utterly trashed; remote streams that are so filthy one wouldn't dare bathe in them, let alone eat a fish caught in their foul waters; trampled, flattened areas large enough for 10 football stadiums. My favorite is the expression on a varmint hunter's face when I suggested he ought to be shooting the COWS, not the coyotes, as the former are the real varmints.

However, one point was not made in your article. When state Sen. Laird Noh accuses Jon Marvel of trading one use of the land that can be "environmentally compatible" (cattle grazing) for another use "that will lead to ranchettes, pavement, and subdivisions, all of which can't be reversed," he reveals his apparent ignorance of the fact that, for the most part, the land in question could never support a subdivision, let alone 10 football stadiums, because of its essential remoteness, and perhaps more importantly, the lack of sufficient water, a precious substance which is universally considered absolutely necessary for any pretense of multiple housing developments.

Some rural Western land may be more suitable, unfortunately, for ranchettes. Likewise, some may be more suitable for grazing livestock, if it were managed honestly, properly, and ecologically. The Owyhee country of southwest Idaho and bordering Nevada and Oregon is not suitable for either. What continues to amaze those of us who oppose such irresponsible and destructive use is that the ranching residents, some of whom have been there for generations, have not figured that out yet!

Warren E. Watson

Santa Fe, New Mexico