I had to chuckle at California BLM official Gail O'Neill's lamentation that her staff is spending weeks away from normal duties to ensure that cattle stay out of Mojave desert tortoise habitat (HCN, 11/5/01: Cattle make way for tortoises in the Mojave). What possible duties could the BLM, the nation's largest public-land and cattle manager, have that are more important than protecting and enforcing the health of our national heritage?
The scientific documentation of the ecological destruction of our Western public lands from ranching is extraordinary. Equally extraordinary are the powers that sustain and nourish the cattle industry.
Sadly, one of the greatest hindrances to rangeland reform in the West is the cowpoke-pattycake approach of numerous environmental groups such as The Nature Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife. Their efforts in behalf of public-land ranching merely serve to falsely legitimate this destructive activity while prolonging its inevitable demise.
It's time for concerted and resolute measures directed specifically at Congress to once and forever remove the most pervasively destructive activity on public land - cattle ranching.