Friday, October 29, 2010
Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley--Putnam photo
Candidate’s Comments Cause for Concern
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President
During a recent meeting with an Idaho sportsman’s group, gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred made some surprising comments. As a matter of policy, the Idaho Farm Bureau doesn’t endorse political candidates. However, we thought it pertinent to pass along the following information and as always, we encourage all Idahoans to get out and vote on Tuesday November 2.
During the October 9th discussion between Allred and members of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, the subject of bighorn sheep management came up. The following are Allred’s comments verbatim:
"My family a hundred years ago was driving sheep and cattle up to the Sawtooth Valley and running sheep. So I’d like to see a viable sheep industry. But we also have a long enough family history that we remember when there(were)much more substantial bighorn sheep populations in Idaho than there are now. So how do you manage those competing perspectives? Here’s one kind of distinction I would draw: On public lands, to me, wildlife populations have to take priority over individual private interests, really economic interests, and grazing. On private lands then private property owners need to take priority."
In early August, Payette National Forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville cut domestic sheep grazing on the Forest by 70 percent, from 100,000 acres to 31,500 acres over three years. Four ranches lost grazing access on the Forest. The cut could result in the loss of 28 jobs. Some scientists contend that disease transmission between bighorn and domestic sheep is not a relevant factor in declining numbers of wild sheep. However, Forest officials believe there is “a body of evidence that overwhelmingly demonstrates bighorn sheep in close proximity to domestics are at risk for disease transmission.
From our perspective, Payette Forest officials acted hastily in removing the grazing permits and in turn threatened the livelihoods of four Idaho businesses. But more to the point of Allred’s comments, regarding private interests using public lands, this is an indication of how things could change if he is elected as Idaho’s ' 33rd governor.
In our opinion, private interests that use public lands shouldn’t take a backseat to wildlife concerns. Grazing, mining, timber production and other uses of public lands are critical to our state’s economy. They provide jobs and revenue that support rural communities and should be considered equal to wildlife values at the very least.