Monday, May 30, 2016

FEDERAL LANDS - The Debate (Update)

IMHO:  A collation between anti-government 'terrorists' and environmental 'terrorists?'  Not good for America.

"Cranes, curlews, and cows — the delicate debate over Oregon's federal lands" PBS NewsHour 5/24/2016


SUMMARY:  Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge grabbed headlines earlier this year when it was seized by armed militants protesting federal control of local lands.  But for the past decade, some local ranchers have been striving to find common ground with environmental groups and refuge officials, and important strides have been made for birds and cows.  Special correspondent Cat Wise reports.

CAT WISE (NewsHour):  The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has reopened to the public, but the headquarters complex remains closed, for now.

CHAD KARGES, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:  Once the repairs are done, and we're back in the buildings and operational again in full, then we will open up the headquarters.

CAT WISE:  Refuge manager Chad Karges says that while cleanup efforts from the occupation are ongoing, everyone's attention is now refocused on the most important visitors here, birds.

CHAD KARGES:  Malheur Refuge is about migratory birds, and so this basin is one of the most important spring migratory stopover points for migratory birds in the Western U.S.  The basin serves as kind of like an international airport.  It's a hub.

CAT WISE:  More than 320 species are found here, including Sandhill Cranes, Ross's Geese, Long-Billed Curlews, and Red-Winged Blackbirds.  But the birds don't just hang out on the refuge.  They land wherever they want.

And at this time of year, that's often on local private ranchland wet with spring runoff.  It's wonderful habitat for birds and for cows.  Cows outnumber people by 14 to one in Harney County.  There's a long, proud tradition of ranching here, and cattle and haying are the main drivers of the local economy.

Cows and birds seem to get along quite well on private ranches, and many in the community appreciate the tourism dollars that birders bring in.  But it's when those cattle have to graze on public, government-owned land, which makes up 75 percent of the county, that conflicts between ranchers, and environmental groups, and the federal government become evident.

So, about 10 years ago, refuge manager Karges and a small group in this community decided to try a fairly novel approach to resolving those conflicts, face-to-face conversations.  And those conversations have led to this, the High Desert Partnership, a nonprofit that was formed with one goal, collaboration.

MAN:  Can you add to the committee, or does it need to be a standing committee?

MAN:  I would just recommend that it is a standing group.

CAT WISE:  Participants at this recent meeting, held at the historic Hotel Diamond, included ranchers, federal and local government employees, scientists, and conservation advocates, a diverse group you might not expect would share so many laughs.

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