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Know the West

Points to consider about buyouts


I'm a rancher and grazing permittee in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. Our family ranch has used adjacent BLM and USFS permits since the early 1900s, and I found "The Big Buyout" quite interesting (HCN, 4/04/05: The Big Buyout).

I’d add a few comments for your consideration:

  • Retiring these permits devalues the custodial stewardship historically provided by ranchers.
  • Intergenerational knowledge, skills and databases are lost. o Seasonal federal employees lack the skills and experience to evaluate range or social trends.
  • Abuses by grazing permittees prevalent in some earlier decades have been acknowledged and rectified. The abuses we’re seeing nowadays are at the hands of recreational users: litter, roads, dirt bike tracks, hill climbing.
  • More management by federal employees results in poorer resource management, as indicated by improving habitat conditions on private lands paralleling deteriorating conditions on public lands.
  • Retiring the permits detracts from the economic strength of local communities.

Mary Flitner
Shell, Wyoming