Forester retreats on grazing rules

  With the Idaho congressional delegation breathing down his neck, Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor Bill LeVere withdrew his controversial grazing rules, which were regarded as the toughest in the nation.

In March, LeVere told his district rangers to cancel ranchers' permits if violation warnings went unheeded. But after a roasting in Washington, D.C., from Idaho Reps. Helen Chenoweth and Mike Crapo, both Republicans, LeVere opted to can his plan (HCN, 4/28/97).

"This is not about winning or losing," insisted LeVere. "This is about doing what's best for the resource."

LeVere's turnabout was a clear victory for Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, the plan's most vocal critic. In April, Craig asked Regional Forester Dale Bosworth to withdraw the grazing rules. Craig also tried unsuccessfully in May to kill the rules by attaching an amendment to the flood relief bill.

LeVere may have reversed himself to ensure that he would be around to see the next grazing season. But when asked if the forester's job was in danger over the flap, Bosworth was clear: "Not from me, and I'm his boss."

LeVere is not entirely out of the frying pan: This summer, the regional forester's office will send a team to the Sawtooth to review the forest's rangeland program.

* Shea Andersen

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