Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Congress on Western Rangelands

Putnam photo
Otter Addresses Western Rangeland Congress
Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter gave an impassioned speech on the endangered species act and specifically the listing of the slickspot peppergrass on the Endangered Species Act in October.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists wrote in the listing that the habitat continues to get worse across Idaho. Biologists added that wildfire and cheat grass continue to threaten the species. In a release in November, scientists found that cattle grazing on public land didn't greatly affect the annual flowering bush that grows in wet areas of Southwest Idaho's sagebrush desert. Governor Otter says the listing will have a serious impact on Idaho ranchers for generations.

"On November 16th, I filed a suit to challenge Interior Secretary Salazar under the Administrative Procedures act in an attempt to signal my fellow governors that if we don't draw the line here, we never will. I wanted to get this mischief stopped, because this will one of many issues we will face in the future."

Otter told the group that the Murphy Complex fire has done more to kill off slickspot peppergrass than a hundred years of grazing. He added that the fire may have triggered the endangered species listing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that wet spots in the desert are disappearing and its hard for slickspots to come back on a burned out plain. The Governor pointed out that Owyhee County ranchers stepped up and helped organize their neighbors to take a series of actions so their cattle would not disturb the plant in the spring when it is flowering and going to seed. But those efforts were ignored by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

"Its worth preserving these efforts, to show that we care about this, those of us born of the land that live and die on the land we care about this. But we have to have leeway to do so," said Otter. "If you take nothing away from this, you need to tell your governors, congressmen that we need a dog in this fight. I understand the fundamental values, it’s the 10 Amendment to the Constitution, if we don’t challenge this now, we will be hard spent to challenge anything again."

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