Jeff Burgess rants and raves (HCN, 3/20/95) about the grazing fees for ranchers being too low (yawn). It always makes me laugh when I read this as federal land in no way compares to private grazing rentals. Lessees must develop water, cost share fencing and do a host of other things that are not required if one leases or rents from a private landowner. This is accomplished with their own money, and in a majority of true desert or high-desert leases, there would be no water at all if it wasn't for the rancher developing the well and water pipeline systems.
On the same page Scott Reed wants to cut federal agencies, but if we really want to investigate below-cost government subsidies, let's look at the National Park Service. It has never turned a profit since its inception. I wonder what the cost per visitor would be if we wanted it to make a profit or just break even? Has anyone looked at what it costs to provide administration and associated services for the millions of acres of wilderness on a per-user basis? What are the costs per-user day? How much are they paying now? How about they pay nothing!
As a resource manager for the last 25 years, I have tried to help both sides of this argument, but it appears that the environmental community is hell-bent on stopping all grazing and logging. The only issue I really worry about is salmon and steelhead extinction. With all of the technology and millions of dollars already spent - both federal and private - we should have a better handle on how to re-establish the steelhead and salmon in the Columbia/Snake River system. I would urge the power companies to invest in some very heavy research for the movement of salmon through the dams. I know for a fact that if we had a million or so salmon coming up the river systems to spawn, the spawning grounds are there - it's like the hotel is open, but there's no one coming in to register. Here's one area where I think we can all work together.
M. Robert Allen