I've started a petition on MoveOn,org because this is what happened to friends of mine in an area I know well. My next door neighbors have a camp at Kennedy meadows but this is not their report. It comes from Domenic Torchia and Spencer Lennard.
"When we picked up the wilderness permit for our hike in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, we envisioned the Sierra high country to be wonderful fish and wildlife habitat lined with huge, picturesque ponderosa pines and white granite cliffs. The otherwise helpful rangers made no mention of the ecosystem wreckage we were about to encounter.
of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular
Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung,
swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green
algae-filled water, instead of lush, wildflower-strewn meadows at
Kennedy Lake. We sunk into a green quagmire of muck created by a steady
stream of cows cooling themselves in the shallows."
Let me interject here that we have technology to feed cattle and collect the
waste without contaminating the land, poisoning our water, killing our wildlife,
and spreading diseases to humans. My friend continues:
we scurried to get above the algae-clogged Kennedy Lake, we encountered
several fly fishers, horse packers, photographers and hikers – all
aghast and expressing the same sense of disappointment as we were. Why
would the National Forest Service and the California legislative
delegation continue the taxpayer-subsidized damage to some of the
state’s best sub-alpine habitat, especially here, in this increasingly
popular recreational area?
As we swatted flies
and stepped over the excrement, we were struck by the notion that this
hiker’s paradise should not be a taxpayer-subsidized feedlot. We
understood that grazing allotments were grandfathered into many
wilderness bills – obviously including the Emigrant Wilderness – when
they were designated as such. We know that policy change is slower than
molasses, especially when ranching culture and environmental issues are
being discussed. But we could not understand how the U.S. Forest Service
could let such taxpayer-subsidized harm continue to degrade one of our
most preciously beautiful places, especially when species and habitat
loss are also at stake?"
According to the
National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, grazing programs operated by the
U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management receive an annual
taxpayer subsidy of almost $445 million to facilitate a program that
doesn’t benefit the public, wildlife or the land. This defacement of our
national treasures occurs to benefit a small number of ranchers.
un-irrigated range land in the West rents for an average of $11.90 per
cow and calf, while monthly grazing fees on federal lands are currently a
paltry $1.35. Despite the extreme damage done, western federal range
lands account for less than 3 percent of all forage fed to livestock in
the United States. If all livestock were removed from public lands in
the West, beef prices would be unaffected.
Cattle destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste.
predators like the grizzly bear and wolf were driven to near extinction
in western ecosystems by “predator control” programs designed to
protect the livestock industry. Adding insult to injury – and flying in the face of modern conservation science
– the livestock industry remains the leading opponent to otherwise
popular efforts to reintroduce species like the Mexican gray wolf in
Arizona and New Mexico."
There you have it. Archaic land
mismanagement affects the local economy in Tuolumne County in favor of a
few ranchers when people who come for scenic beauty, kayaking on lakes,
recreation, hikers, horse packers and fishers encounter the degradation
happening in the wilds on publicly owned National Forests, decide not
Please sign my petition and tell your friends: