RangeNet 2000 Symposium


November 28 & 29, 2000

Flamingo Reno

Reno, Nevada


Looking at the proposition that, as we enter the 21st Century, the commercial production of domestic livestock is no longer an appropriate use of the public lands that make up America’s Natural Heritage.


Master of Ceremonies: Jim Britell

Tuesday, November 28, 2000


8:00 am – 8:30 am

  • Registration


8:30 am – 9:30 am

  • We Had An Election: Jim Britell
  • Rangeland Reform Revisited: Cathy Carlson


10:00 am – 11:30 am

  • Retirement Of Grazing Privileges On Public Lands: a panel moderated by Gilly Lyons
    • Cullen Battle
    • Becky Mills
    • Mark Salvo


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

  • Why The Taylor Grazing Act Should Be Repealed: George Cameron Coggins
  • Cows Versus Condos: George Wuerthner


3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Sage Grouse – Spotted Owls Of The Sagebrush Steppe: a panel moderated by Mark Salvo
    • Katie Fite
    • Steve Herman
    • Andy Kerr


6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

  • No-Host Reception


Wednesday, November 29, 2000


8:00 am – 9:30 am

  • Grassroots Activity: a panel moderated by John Carter, Willow Creek Ecology
    • The Center for Biological Diversity: Martin Taylor
    • Committee for Idaho’s High Desert: Pam Marcum
    • Escalante Wilderness Project: Tori Woodard & Patrick Diehl
    • Forest Guardians: John Horning
    • Oregon Natural Desert Association: Gilly Lyons
    • Prescott Forest Friends: Jim Powers
    • SINAPU: John Graham
    • Wyoming Outdoor Council: Tom Darin


10:00 am – 11:30 am

  • Litigation Update: a panel moderated by Jon Marvel
    • Stephanie Parent
    • Bill Eddie
    • John Horning
    • Martin Taylor
    • Tom Lustig


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

  • The Western Range Revisited: Debra L. Donahue
  • Is There Hope? Will we see the end of public lands ranching in our lifetimes?  Jon Marvel


3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Open Microphone
  • Closing Remarks and Announcements

Displays and handouts are across the foyer in Town Hall 4 & 5

Additional Details


·                     We Had An Election: Jim Britell will analyze how the results of the November 7, 2000, general elections may affect the activities of environmental advocates and organizations in their local communities.

Jim Britell is a retired federal manager with supervisory and management experience in local, regional and national organizations. He has extensive experience with—and has trained people how to do—formal negotiating. As a working grassroots activist for over ten years he has been involved with many kinds of environmental campaigns, and is nationally known as an organizer for newly forming grassroots groups. He has also managed many political campaigns for candidates from the city to congressional levels.

·                    Rangeland Reform Revisited: Cathy Carlson will present a review of the efforts by the Clinton Administration to fulfill the promises of one of the first, and most controversial, environmental initiatives of this Administration. The report was prepared with co-author Johanna Wald, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, and catalogues the broken promises of this program for the western public lands and its users.

Cathy Carlson is doing consulting work, to protect the western public lands from abusive land use practices, as the Center for the Wild West. This “Rangland Reform Revisited” project was conducted through the Center for the Wild West.

·                     Retirement Of Grazing Privileges On Public Lands: Moderator Gilly Lyons is Grassroots Coordinator for Oregon Natural Desert Association.

·         Cullen Battle will discuss the Grand Canyon Trust’s successful efforts to buy out federal grazing permits on BLM land.

Cullen received his law degree from the University of Virginia, where he was an Editor of the Virginia Journal of Natural Resources Law. He has practiced law at Fabian & Clendenin in Salt Lake City since 1981. In addition to his commercial law practice, Cullen maintains a substantial public interest environmental law practice representing conservation organizations in cases such as the following: representing the Grand Canyon Trust in transactions involving the voluntary purchase and retirement of federal grazing permits in environmentally sensitive areas of southern Utah; appearing before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Nature Conservancy in Public Lands Council v. Babbitt, a case in which the right of non-profit organizations to hold federal grazing privileges for conservation purposes was successfully defended; representing a coalition of local governments and conservation groups opposing the permanent disposal of uranium tailings on the banks of the Colorado River near Moab, Utah; and advising the National Audubon Society regarding the establishment of the South Shore Reserve on the Great Salt Lake.

·         Becky Mills will discuss Great Basin National Park’s experience with permit retirement and buy-outs within the park’s boundaries.

Becky has been fortunate enough to be superintendent of Great Basin National Park since August 1995. She joined the National Park Service in 1978, hoping to work in a park, but worked mostly in the San Francisco Regional Office as Youth Program Chief and Equal Opportunity Manager, with short stints in Washington as International Relations Manager and at Lassen Volcanic National Monument as Administrative Officer. Becky traveled throughout the Western region to present training and conduct evaluations, and Great Basin became her favorite park – for its silence, space, stars, solitude, and stunning diversity and beauty. Prior to her work with the Park Service, Becky was a fundraising consultant, director of an economic development center for women, administrative analyst, and social worker. She is also the author of an article on public lands grazing.

·        Mark Salvo will propose a federal grazing permit retirement program based on past examples of successful permit retirement.

Mark holds a B.A. in History (1993) from University of Oregon Clark Honors College; and a J.D. (1997) from University of Oregon School of Law. Mark now serves as Grasslands Advocate for American Lands, a national non-profit organization that works with grassroots groups and individuals to protect and restore wildlife and wild places across the country. He advocates for BLM wilderness and federal public lands grazing permit retirement, and coordinates American Lands’ Sage Grouse Conservation Project.

·                     Why The Taylor Grazing Act Should Be Repealed: George Cameron Coggins will address how the Taylor Act of 1934 has failed in multiple respects. It causes far more problems than it solves, notably poor range condition. Although important reform efforts are underway (including the regulations upheld in the Public Lands Council case), repeal of the Taylor Act remains necessary to balance sustainable management of the public rangelands.

A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law, George Coggins joined the University of Kansas law faculty in 1970 after practice with the San Francisco law firm of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enerson. He was named the Frank Edwards Tyler Professor of Law in 1983 in recognition of his achievements in the areas of environmental law, wildlife law, national energy policy, and national public land and resources. He is a prolific scholar whose work is often cited by courts and others writing in his areas of expertise. Professor Coggins, with his co-author Charles Wilkinson, first developed a framework for the organization and study of the field of public natural resources law when they published their seminal casebook, Federal Public Land and Resources Law, in 1981. Often at the forefront of proposals to reform laws in this area, Coggins continues to generate attention and praise for his thoughtful and innovative analyses both as a conference speaker and through his numerous publications.

·                     Cows Versus Condos: George Weurthner will look at the argument usually presented as the trump card in any debate about the negative impacts of livestock production that “no matter how bad cows are, sprawl is worse.” He will show that not only is the assumption that sprawl is worse inaccurate, but also that ranching can’t prevent sprawl. The goal should be to prevent and restrict both condos and cows, and there are proven ways to achieve these goals.

George is a freelance ecologist, photographer, and writer. He has authored 24 books and written hundreds of articles for a wide variety of publications. He is currently project coordinator for a book on the effects of livestock production on the West.

·                     Sage Grouse – Spotted Owls Of The Sagebrush Steppe: Moderator Mark Salvo is Grasslands Advocate for American Lands

·         Katie Fite will discuss recent BLM management actions as they affect the spotted owl.

Katie is Staff Ecologist with the Committee for Idaho’s High Desert.

·         Dr. Steve Herman has been witness to the recovery of much of Hart Mountain. He will describe aspects of that recovery, including evidence of a rebounding sage grouse population.

Dr. Herman is a graduate of the University of California. Shortly after completing his Ph.D. at U.C. Davis he took a position at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he has taught natural history, wildlife biology, ornithology, mammalogy, and related subjects for nearly 30 years. Specializing in extended field work, Dr. Herman has spent much of his teaching time in southeastern Oregon, where he owns Malheur Bird Observatory, an 80 acre site of old growth sagebrush that hasn’t been grazed for a half century. Since 1976, he has spent several weeks per year teaching on Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, where he was active in promoting the removal of cattle. His study site has been cattle free since 1985; the remainder of the Refuge was cleansed of cows in 1993.


·        Andy Kerr will compare and contrast the sage grouse and the spotted owl, from a political, rather than biological, viewpoint.

Andy is a freelance agitator based in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. He is author of Oregon Desert Guide, a book on how to enjoy and protect 7.2 million acres of tree-free Oregon. He represented The Wilderness Society in a successful effort to establish the 175,000-acre Steens Mountain Wilderness, 100,000 acres of which is the first legislated livestock-free Wilderness in the United States. andykerr@andykerr.net

·                     Litigation Update: Moderator Jon Marvel is Executive Director of Idaho Watersheds Project

·         Stephanie Parent will discuss:
1. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: Our “wrapup” of Owyhee case and recent 9th Circuit Hells Canyon case and request for rehearing en banc.
2. Taylor Grazing Act: “chiefly valuable” rulemaking litigation.
3. Clean Water Act 313: very briefly address our 313 case against the Army Crops of Enginers, which, to my knowledge is the first case to try to demonstrate agency causing violations of water quality standards and applicability to the grazing situation.

Stephanie is the staff attorney for Oregon Natural Desert Association.

·         Bill Eddie will discuss:
1. Where we’ve been in Idaho: Owyhee Resource Area litigation – discuss Judge Winmill’s initial ruling that BLM’s issuance of 68 grazing permits violated NEPA, and more importantly the relief we have obtained (long-term injunctive relief with strict riparian standards). Also discuss the cowboy’s case challenging BLM’s first decision after our win (LU Ranching v Babbitt).
2. Fundamentals of Rangeland Health: Discuss FRH regs, action forcing mechanisms thereunder, and challenges ahead (BLM discretion in making FRH determinations, and using fences and water developments to remedy overgrazing).
3. Where we’re going: ESA/Dewatering of streams and entrained fish – discuss the bevy of 60 day notice letters recently sent to ranchers and federal agencies in the Upper Salmon River watershed for sucking fish into unscreened, primitive diversions and for drying-up salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams.
4. Prospects in Nevada??

Bill Eddie is a staff attorney for the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies Boise office.

·         John Horning will discuss escrow waivers and ESA material.

John is the Headwaters Director for Forest Guardians.

·         Martin Taylor will discuss the using the Endangered Species Act as a proxy for an Endangered Ecosystems Act.

Martin is Grazing Reform Coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity

·         Tom Lustig will discuss D.I.V.I.N.E.  S.E.X. (nine legal losing lessons).

Tom is the Senior Attorney for National Wildlife Federation in Boulder.

·                     The Western Range Revisited: History, ecology, and economics support a conclusion that livestock grazing on arid public lands is a policy whose useful life has expired. In her presentation, Debra Donahue offers an overview of her book, The Western Range Revisited: Removing Livestock from Public Lands to Conserve Native Biodiversity, in which she concludes that grazing on these lands is ecologically destructive, economically inefficient, and inequitable. Furthermore, grazing on arid BLM lands is inconsistent with the governing laws, specifically the Taylor Grazing Act, which authorizes grazing only on lands “chiefly valuable for grazing and raising forage crops,” and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which prohibits land uses causing “unnecessary or undue degradation” of the lands.

Arid Western lands have incurred, and remain susceptible to, irreversible ecological changes as a result of domestic livestock grazing and the management activities that support it. Ending livestock grazing would be the single most effective measure for restoring some of these lands and conserving the native species that remain. Concomittantly, it would affect less than two percent of the nation’s livestock products and fewer than 20,000 permittees. BLM Managers possess the authority under current law to end livestock grazing on these most vulnerable rangelands.

Debra L. Donahue holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in wildlife biology, as well as a J.D. degree. She is a law professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Riparian Zone Functioning and Strategies for Management, and author of several articles and books. Her former positions include staff counsel for National Wildlife Federation, Anchorage, AK; executive director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council; environmental coordinator for Freeport Gold Co.; and wildlife biologist and public information specialist for the BLM in Elko, NV.

·                     Is There Hope? Will we see the end of public lands ranching in our lifetimes? Jon Marvel will close out the symposium with a look into the future.

Jon Marvel is a licensed architect in Hailey, Idaho specializing in energy conserving residential and commercial architecture. Originally from Delaware, Jon has a BA in American History from the University of Chicago and a MArch from the University of Oregon. Jon has lived in Idaho for 30 years since moving to Stanley, Idaho in 1969. He has lived in Hailey, Idaho since 1981 having completed an architectural internship in Boise before that. He has been active in local and state politics in Idaho, having served as Democratic Party Chair in Blaine County and as a member of the Idaho State Democratic Party Central and Executive Committees. He is married with two children, and when not working for change in public lands management, he enjoys wilderness river running and hiking the roadless areas of Idaho.

In September, 1993 with two friends he founded Idaho Watersheds Project (IWP) to apply for and compete at auction for Idaho school endowment land grazing leases. This was the first time any conservation organization has competed with traditional resource users in order to protect natural resources on public lands. Since 1993, Idaho Watersheds Project has applied for over 100,000 acres of expiring grazing leases on school endowment lands and has raised over $80,000 for the school endowment fund. In the last four years IWP has expanded its area of work to include monitoring and influencing grazing management of allotments on 20 million acres of BLM and Forest Service managed public lands on Idaho watersheds in five states. In the summer and fall months IWP employs seven people to monitor compliance by grazing permittees on six National Forests as well as several million acres of BLM managed public lands in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Wyoming. IWP currently has 1050 members.