Western Watersheds Project’s work to help document ongoing trespass livestock has paid off!
WWP staff (Katie Fite and Ken Cole) and the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) documented a single rancher’s trespass cattle
throughout the 2012 season. After receiving three trespass notices for
having cattle on several allotments in the Juniper Mountain area of
southwestern Owyhee County, an Owyhee County rancher agreed to pay $24,651 in trespass grazing fees and administrative costs.
The trespassing rancher, Jack Payne, is the owner of the C
Ranch in Owyhee County and owner of Nevada Livestock Marketing in
Fallon, Nevada. The BLM first observed his trespassing livestock on the
Trout Springs and Pole Creek allotments on July 20th, 2012.
Payne did not have a permit to graze cattle on either of these
allotments; the Trout Springs allotment had been completely closed to
grazing since 2008 after another rancher lost his permit due to repeated
willful trespass violations. Some of Payne’s cattle also remained on
the Bull Basin allotment long after the July 15 permit deadline for
removal adding to the unauthorized use violations. In total, Payne’s
trespass cattle were found on four allotments: Trout Springs, Pole
Creek, Cliffs and Bull Basin.
WWP obtained documents about the trespass through a Freedom of
Information Act request and there were records of conversations between
the BLM and Jack Payne wherein the rancher complained that livestock
were difficult to manage on these heavily-forested-with-juniper
allotments. Cattle would often escape detection or quickly disappear
into the dense junipers when being rounded up.
This echoes complaints made by Western Watersheds Project. These lands are unsuitable for livestock grazing.
Redband trout streams on the allotments have suffered severe
degradation and any recovery made on the Trout Springs allotment was
lost with just this one season of trespass. In addition, there is
little livestock forage available after decades of abusive livestock
grazing on these landscapes.
Unfortunately, trespass and general lawlessness is a common
aspect of livestock grazing in Owyhee County. Cattle have been observed
illegally grazing in the general area for many years by Western
Watersheds Project staff but outside political forces have undermined
BLM decision-making. We hope that one day livestock grazing will end in
this remote, arid and important landscape and be replaced with healthy
streams and healthy wildlife habitat.