Nevada BLM Director Ruhs and BLM Director Kornze fail to act. Severe impacts to rare fish in the Virgin River, and desert tortoise habitat in the uplands…

WLD responds.  Read what Katie Fite had to say to BLM about what she found when monitoring Nevada’s Virgin River….


From: Katie Fite
Date: May 7, 2015 at 3:39:18 PM MDT
Subject: Virgin River area: Unresolved ongoing cattle degradation and trespass of public lands and bulldozing of Virgin River

Dear Nevada BLM,

I recently visited the area of the Gold Butte and other ACECs near the Virgin River, and habitats for endangered woundfin, Virgin River chub, southwest willow flycatcher, desert tortoise,  and other endangered and threatened biota. I also visited other BLM managed lands in the vicinity of Mesquite and Bunkerville, as well as surrounding areas of public lands including the Arizona Strip whose ACECs also have serious livestock degradation problems.

This area gained considerable notoriety last year when BLM backed off removing Cliven Bundy’s cattle, and the cattle that had been rounded up were released.

From conditions on the ground, it appears that NOTHING has been done to stop the serious ongoing habitat degradation.

Nearly all cattle-accessible portions of the Virgin riverbanks that I visited were torn up by extensive cattle trampling. The cattle are visible in large numbers in early morning – during the day they are hidden in the tamarisk and other areas of riparian vegetation and only a few are readily spotted.

The cows are eating back cottonwoods and other young native trees, preventing recovery of the vegetation community.

I also visited upland areas to the south in the series of Gold Butte ACECs. There too, cattle were present, severely trampling and degrading the minimal water that was present.

I also observed a considerable amount of recent bulldozing activity in the area of BLM lands upstream of the Bunkerville bridge crossing. Plus there is obvious in-river bulldozing by the private lands below the bridge that one can readily see while driving across.

The BLM’s ACEC mapping shows the upstream area suffering bulldozing as being BLM ACEC lands. It is where the various bulldozer photos included below were taken.

What are BLM, the Army Corps, or other agencies doing about this bulldozing?

Are you monitoring the damage being done?

What is BLM doing about the large-scale, ongoing Bundy cattle trespass situation?

Are you monitoring the damage being done?

We are very concerned that this situation is just being left to fester, and worsen.

It is also spawning would-be Bundys in other areas.

As a biologist who spent a considerable amount of time out on public lands in NV and ID in 2014, I saw first hand the degree to which the Bundy situation and BLM’s appearing to have  given up on doing anything to bring it under control have created a sense of rancher lawlessness. This manifests itself in trespassed exclosures, refusal of ranchers to remove livestock despite extreme drought conditions (as in Argenta), and livestock trespass in general. More recently, in winter 2014-2015 this sense of lawlessness resulted in ranchers interfering with release of wild horses on public lands in the Fish Creek area of Nevada.

Initially after the spring 2014 Bundy debacle, BLM managers I would talk to were certain that the federal government would act to enforce laws. This does not appear to be happening, and the public lands, waters, wildlife and endangered fish habitats are suffering continuing ongoing irreparable harm and undue degradation.

WildLands Defense believes that BLM and other federal agencies must take action to rein in this out-of-control situation. What is being done to correct this serious damage?

Katie Fite
WildLands Defense
PO Box
Boise, ID 83701