Cattle kicked off salmon range

  To protect spawning salmon, cattle on four allotments in Oregon's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest have been shifted away from streams. The Forest Service reacted to a federal appeals court injunction that banned all grazing, logging and road building in parts of the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forests. The appeals court had found that the Forest Service failed to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency charged with recovering salmon (HCN, 8/8/94). "For cattlemen, the injunction is the last straw," says Mack Birkmaier, president of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and one of the ranchers who may lose access to the forest. David Bayles, public lands director for the Pacific Rivers Council, hoped for more action. "They are pulling out cows only where there are adult Chinook spawning directly in front of cows," he says. In all, 16,000 cattle and 4,000 sheep graze on the two forests; about 1,500 cattle on the Wallowa-Whitman were shifted, but the Forest Service says it won't shift any cattle on the Umatilla. Bayles says his group may go back to court to force more sweeping changes. "They're doing what they've always done - making decisions behind closed doors." Forest Service spokesman Thom Corcoran denies the charge. He says his agency planned to move the cows off the allotments long before the injunction, partly as a result of extensive consultation with the Fisheries Service. At this point, he adds, the agency doesn't know how grazing and other activities will be affected next year.

High Country News Classifieds