Management of livestock grazing on the Morgan Creek Allotment has sparked disagreements between ranchers and conservationists for many years. In an attempt to foster cooperation, proponents of Holistic Management (HM) in the mid-1990s brought together permittees, environmentalists and employees of land management agencies to implement and oversee HM-style ranching on the allotment. A 1998
describing the assembled “roundtable” management team and its approach to improving the allotment’s environmental conditions expressed great optimism. Yet within two years the hope that Holistic Management would bring significant improvements to the allotment had been forgotten.
Western Watersheds Project’s
Lick Creek Report 2000
documents numerous examples along Lick Creek of how this management had not lived up to expectations. Citing specific management practices embodied in the Biological Assessment for Bull Trout in the Upper Salmon River Watershed
(USDA FS, 1999) the report states:
They claim that the herd is managed as a cohesive group that is attended 7 days/week by at least one professional rider. These riders move the cattle through the allotment ensuring that areas are grazed only once per year and for a maximum of 4–10 days per area. This is clearly not how the herd was managed during the 2000 grazing season. Cattle were documented simultaneously in multiple drainages. No rider was present with the cattle when we were performing surveys. Additionally, cattle were observed for periods over a month in the same drainage.
Most significantly, cows were not even supposed to be in Lick Creek this season. Due to the severe fires in the area, cows were ordered off the forest no later than August 30th, before their rotation into the Lick Creek paddock. When we expressed concern for livestock violating Bull Trout spawning restrictions, the Forest Service Supervisor assured us that livestock had been ordered off the forest and there would be no conflict. Livestock had not been in the Lick Creek watershed yet at that point. However, after that discussion with the Forest Supervisor, livestock did enter the Lick Creek watershed and we documented cows in the Lick Creek drainage throughout the season, including in September, during Bull Trout spawning.
Such has been the reality, rather than the hype, of Holistic Management at least on the Morgan Creek Allotment.