Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just in

Auction raises Money to Appeal Federal Grazing Decision

Melba—South Mountain Ranch co-owner Matt Duckett donated a registered Angus heifer at Tuesdays auction at South Mountain designed to raise money for litigation in the Owyhee 68 case.

More than $13-thousand dollars were raised, that money according to organizers will help fund a legal battle over the BLM’s plans to reduce public grazing land.

“I’m not afraid of the BLM,” said Murphy rancher Paul Nettleton, “Im confident we can beat them again.” Nettleton and neighbor Tim Lowry beat the BLM in a decade long water rights case seven years ago. “If we don’t fight this, it could destroy ranching not only in Owyhees but across the west,” he added.

It all started 15 years ago when Federal District Court Judge Lynn Winmill ordered the BLM’s Owyhee field office in southwest Idaho to rewrite 68 grazing permits. The radical environmental group Western Watersheds Project argued that permits were not up NEPA standards.

The new permits were issued last year and Ranchers like Tim Lowry in Jordan Valley and Nettleton found that their grazing allotments were reduced by half.

“We might have to reduce our herd because we’ll be feeding more and the cost of feed is up,” said Tim Lowry. “It’ll drive a lot of us out of business.”

The Owyhee and Idaho Cattle Association are appealing the grazing reductions along with the Western Watersheds Project. The proposed reductions won’t go into effect until the appeals are reviewed.

At the South Mountain Ranch outside of Melba, ranchers bought and sold the Duckett Angus heifer three times to fellow ranchers passionate about the cause. 

The 68 permits in the Owyhees affect more than a hundred thousand acres of land and tens of millions of dollars into the Idaho Economy each year.

The Idaho Farm Bureau is helping with fundraising efforts for the Owyhee 68.

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