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Observations from a cattleman

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Dear HCN,

I read your paper with interest, amusement and sometimes disgust. First, I want to inform you that I am a 73-year-old cattleman as well as a staunch environmentalist. Despite your beliefs to the contrary, a man can be both and many are. I'm even in favor of the reintroduction of wolves.

The majority of my life has been spent with cows and horses, and darned if I don't prefer them to people. Over the years I have learned that undergrazing is just as harmful as overgrazing. If the land were totally devoid of grazers it would eventually revert to tap-rooted shrubbery plants with no grass.

I notice most of the cow haters list a city address. Perhaps their motivation is to have the public lands as a playground uncontaminated by cow manure. On the range I am involved with, we have made great strides in range improvement through rotational grazing and only allowing the cattle on the riparian areas for a short period of time in early summer. We are working in harmony with the various government agencies and have put quite a bit of money into range improvements.

I work full time on the range and attribute my longevity to good fat beef, black coffee and a little whiskey now and then. Perhaps dialogue and understanding would go much farther to cure the world's ailments than the present adversarial attitudes of ranchers and environmentalists.

Ron Hughes

Blackfoot, Idaho

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