« Return to this article

Know the West

Don't forget cows

  Dear HCN,

Ray Ring's otherwise excellent article about whirling disease and trout in torment (HCN, 9/18/95) missed a critical part of the fisheries picture in the arid West: livestock.

One of the key reasons why the Idaho Watersheds Project and eight regional environmental groups filed a listing petition for the desert redband trout with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in April of this year was because of the ongoing destruction of stream habitat of this subspecies by cows. In Owyhee County, Idaho, and every other rural county in the arid West with perennial streams, the single largest negative impact on native fish is livestock abuse. The unvarnished truth is that unmanaged welfare ranching remains the single largest destroyer of all ecosystems in the arid West.

Jon Marvel

Hailey, Idaho