Responsible ranchers obey the law

  Dear HCN,

Your recent story, "Showdown on the Nevada Range" (HCN, 8/27/01: Showdown on the Nevada range), was timely and objective. Whether from the extreme left or right, I think most Nevadans are getting a bellyful of dissident groups that peddle fear and distortion. More importantly, individuals like Mr. Colvin jeopardize the future of grazing on public lands by denigrating the majority of ranchers that elect to operate in an environmentally responsible manner under the appropriate laws, rules and regulations.

I have known BLM State Director Bob Abbey as a close friend and colleague for over 20 years. Bob is a straight shooter with unchallenged integrity and a distinguished record of public service. Bob has worked harder than any previous BLM State Director in Nevada history to find the delicate balance between public-land grazing and escalating environmental concerns that many Nevadans demand. Bob has enlisted the support of ranchers, wild horse advocates, recreation users, environmental and conservation organizations, elected officials and other members of the public to restore and rehabilitate Nevada rangelands, including those that have been severely impacted by drought and catastrophic fires during the past two years. Bob consistently seeks sensible solutions that recognize competing interests. Many of us continue to support grazing as a legitimate use of public lands but achieving the balance necessary to satisfy critical concerns about preserving and protecting vegetation, water, soil, air and endangered species can only be accomplished with cooperation. Bob Abbey understands this better than anyone I have ever known.

Mr. Colvin has consistently attacked Bob Abbey and the BLM for calling him a "trespasser" and asserts that he is a "rancher." I have known and worked with many ranchers over the years and, in spite of any differences they may have with the BLM, responsible ranchers obey the law and pay their bills. Impoundment of livestock is an action that only takes place after many attempts to resolve the situation in a mutually acceptable manner. Quite frankly, it is not an action that anyone likes to take, but in spite of this fact it is interesting to point out that the Nevada Cattlemen's Association did not support Mr. Colvin's actions.

As a conservationist, a friend of ranchers and the environmental community, and someone willing to work with the BLM, I say let's stop the nonsense being spewed by a few bitter people and focus on working together. We can insure a positive outdoor legacy for ranchers and those that enjoy and use the vast public lands in Nevada if we stop listening to Ben Colvin and those who disagree that the federal government has the authority to regulate livestock grazing on public lands.

Mike Ford
Las Vegas, Nevada

Mike Ford is Great Basin Director for The Conservation Fund.

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