The Idaho Owyhee Monument Proposal of 2000 demonstrates how so many of the values of the landscape, and Objects of Importance identified in the Proposal, are being destroyed by public lands welfare ranching.
Cheatgrass, medusahead and other Weeds are sweeping the cow-burned uplands across the Owyhee Plateau – where only 16 years ago, they were absent. Springs and even streams that at the time of the Monument proposal were occupied by redband trout are now bone dry. They are victims of uncontrolled cattle trampling and grazing impacts.
BLM is purposefully cutting down, and torching pre-Columbian western juniper with napalm, in beautiful canyons and watersheds of Juniper Mountain and Pole Creek by the Oregon border. Now, BLM is gearing up for massive new “treatments” and “fuelbreaks” that will further fragment and destroy remaining sagebrush and western juniper communities and the native species that rely upon them.
As the weeds spread under the hoofs of the cattle, cheatgrass-fueled and climate-driven fires burn large acreages. BLM then seeds exotic or other cattle forage species, uproots native plants with aggressive drill seeding to seed forage species, and allows grazing to resume within a short period of time.
So-called “wilderness” designations resulting from the Owyhee Initiative Collaborative Group are doing little – and in the case of livestock grazing — Nothing — to protect this Threatened Owyhee landscape”. OI Group members are even in full support of allowing ranchers to ride ATVS herding their bloated cow herds in the wilderness.
Large areas of ungrazed sagebrush landscapes are essential to buffer the impacts of climate change on native plants and animals like sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit and rare endemic plants.
Current management is broken, and in fact often worsening, as agency managers seek to accommodate cattlemen at the expense of the public lands and the irreplaceable Owyhee landscape and its native biodiversity and other world class values.