Chance Gowan, a senior acquatic biologist and riparian ecologist for the USFS in Eastern Oregon, wrote in an article on public lands in the West (2006), that “the big-ticket items that have acutely damaged or caused long-term and wide-spread alteration of riparian communities” include:
1. Roads that “confine and straighten stream courses.” These roads funnel sediment directly into streams.
2. Old mining practices, that, although they have been improved in recent years, have left a “legacy” of environmental damage.
3. Channelizing or restraining and controlling streams, which damage riparian areas.
4. The LOSS of FAMILY FARMS and RANCHES, as a result of so many factors, which “invariably wind up being partitioned, with minin-ranchettes sitting next to streams.” These lovely and many second home investments, “almost always result in the permanent alteration of the landscape and often result in the near complete destruction of riparian fuctionality–not to mention water pollution, [and] loss of important wildlife habitat.”
This last item is so critical in the rural areas of the West, where family farmers and ranchers are now competing for land and the right to maintain open areas. Unfortunately, many of those who OPPOSE grazing or are anti-beef and anti-cattle do not understand the devastation the LOSS of OPEN space will create in the future. Sadly, many of these same people are the very ones who are intent on purchasing a second home — a home in the country or near nature — but at the price of what????? Wildlife, especially waterfowl and land animals, require wider spaces upon which to graze and where they can fly or roam without fences or broken up spaces. Sub-divided land becomes land that is less than useful for wildlife.
Thus, the destruction and the movement against open grazing or family ranches flies in the face of REAL conservation efforts. Family farms and ranches play a huge part in maintaining a healthy open space and ecosystem. When these outfits and operations are forced out of business by the careless rhetoric and political agenda being pushed by many ‘extreme environmentalists’ toting ‘facts’ that are not facts at all, but propoganda, WE ALL LOSE.
Compared to this loss of habitat by the sub-division and destruction of family ranches and private lands — which support more than 75% of wildlife in the United States — the effect of livestock on the environment or riparian areas is minute, almost, in fact, immeasurable.
So-called “reports” by many of these politically far-left and extreme thinkers is “flawed and inaccurate”, but their malicious and calculated effort to brainwash moderate-thinking and those very concerned with conservation to be is dangerous and will become disastrous if effective.