NV ranchers move to block NDOW from coming on private lands
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When the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) gave its comments on sage grouse, Ron Torell says the agency threw the livestock industry under the bus.
"We had to get their attention somehow. This did it."
Torell is president of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association (NCA) and says NDOW's stance on sage grouse could spell the demise for family ranches across the state. That includes the department's support of a Bureau of Land Management plan for dealing with the possible listing of the bird as endangered. He says they handpick data and ignore the reality on the ground.
"By stating that only 23 percent of the critical habitat is rated as fair condition, that's putting the blame on cattle when you have got wild horse and elk populations that are exploding; those are grazers of the land, as well."
In light of that, the cattlemen took an unprecedented step and barred the agency from coming onto private land, something they do for all sorts of activities like elk counts. The private lands are also valuable. While less than 15 percent of the state, the area contains much of the water, such as along the Humboldt River.
"We think it might be a bit of a miscommunication."
Chris Healy is with Department of Wildlife. He says if you look at their comments as a whole, they do provide a path forward to keep the bird from being listed.
"If we're going to be able to accomplish that, this kind of lack of communication, or these kinds of little blowups, won't be very helpful. So it behooves all of us--the cattlemen, the Department of Wildlife, and other users of the land--to work cooperatively together. "
Healy says it's unlikely their scientists will change what they've submitted because it's based on solid science. He thinks the ranchers are upset with them for going straight to the federal government with their remarks (instead of the state working group), but the two parties do have a record of working together on sage grouse, controlling mule deer and other threats to the land. And both agree that they need to hash things out and take it from there.