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Why Wilderness?

Wilderness and ranching

Wilderness plas a vital role in sustaining local ranching operations, because ranches preserve critical winter range for the wildlife that inhabit the public lands that the campaign is working to protect. Indeed, we see ranching and wilderness as mutually beneficial, in that cattle utilize the public lands in summer and wildlife utilize the private lands in winter.

For this and many other good reasons, all adjacent property owners and holders of grazing allotments have been thoroughly involved in the process of finding appropriate places for new wilderness and to ensure their needs are fairly accommodated in any wilderness legislation.

We affirm grazing allotment lessees’ rights to continued valid existing uses for allotment management. We uphold the 1980 Congressional Grazing Guidelines, which state in part:

"[W]ilderness designation should not prevent the maintenance of existing fences or other livestock management improvements, nor the construction and maintenance of new fences or improvements which are consistent with allotment management plans and/or which are necessary for the protection of the range….

"The maintenance of supporting facilities, existing in the area prior to its classification as wilderness (including fences, line cabins, water wells and lines, stock tanks, etc.), is permissible in wilderness. Where practical alternatives do not exist, maintenance or other activities may be accomplished through the occasional use of motorized equipment. This may include, for example, the use of backhoes to maintain stock ponds, pickup trucks for major fence repairs, or specialized equipment to repair stock watering facilities…. The construction of new improvements or replacement of deteriorated facilities in wilderness is permissible if in accordance with those guidelines and management plans governing the area involved."