Wilderness and Grazing: Time to Send the Cows Home
An Environmental Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM George Wuerthner, CounterPunch.org
March 2021

It is important to note, despite the frequent reference to “grazing rights,” all livestock production on public lands is a privilege. There is no “right” to public forage. The federal government has the legal authority to terminate livestock production at any time. Termination of livestock grazing privileges has always been difficult due to the livestock industry’s political influence over federal agencies....

In many wilderness areas, campers are asked to bury their human waste and camp far from water sources. Such decrees seem foolish when cattle or sheep can poop anyplace and trample the streams and lakes’ shoreline.

Cattle grazing
Cattle grazing in designated wilderness at the Mojave National Preserve, California. Photo George Wuerthner

Cows in designated wilderness areas? Does that seem like an oxymoron? Wilderness Areas are supposed to be places where natural processes and native species are given priority. With the election of the Biden administration, it may be time to reconsider grazing in designated wilderness, especially in light of the 30 x 30 goal of protecting 30 percent of the U.S. by 2030.

The problem of cows (and sheep) in the wilderness goes back to the original debate around enacting the Wilderness Act. House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee Chairman Wayne Aspinall (D Colorado) was a staunch proponent of the livestock industry and would not allow the legislation to pass out of committee for a vote unless some accommodation was made for continued grazing of livestock.

Even more egregious is that, unlike other public lands, termination of livestock grazing in wilderness areas is more challenging than non-wilderness lands. Livestock grazing can only be eliminated if it has significant impacts on other resource values, and wildlands values are not one of those resources....


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE (PDF) 

Return to Environmental Articles
Read more at The Meat and Dairy Industries
Read more at Wildlife Articles