Nature, Hors-sens and the Great Basin

From 1909 to 1920 there was a large influx of dry land farmers to Catlow Valley and Eastern Oregon.  By 1916 there were over 700 settlers living in Catlow Valley.  By 1928 there were fewer than 100.  Nature took them out.  Too many late frosts and dry years.

The Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971 turned the management of wild horses and burros over to the Department of the Interior while limiting management options.  In 1971 there were 25,345 wild horses, in Spring 2016 there were 67,000 head on the range with another 47,000 head in long and short term holding.  Nature took over.

Devastating wildfires are becoming larger and more frequent.  Studies show grazing is a cost-effective fire prevention tool in the sagebrush- steppe of the Great Basin.  With less fuel the fires don’t move as fast, burn as hot, and the range makes a better recovery with less cheat grass and other invasive species.  Peer reviewed science and hors-sens support this.  Since 1954 cattle grazing on the BLM range has dropped by over fifty percent.

Cutting the AUMs, the WH&B Act and dry land farming in Catlow Valley may have been ideas with merit, but without weeding out the wishful or magical thinking, they left a lot to be desired.  Let us explore the past of the great basin for knowledge and experience, then use science and horse sense to help us make better decisions for the future of the Great Basin.

We owe it to our great grandchildren.

The Great Basin

Copyright © 2016-2019 Gerald Miller. All Rights Reserved.

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