Cattle were not turned loose, but managed on wildlife refuge

by Dave Danforth, Fort Klamath 10/10/13, letter to editor of Herald and News

followed by Quinn Red's commentary: Dought year led to bending rules for grazing

Sunday’s commentary by Quinn Read demonstrates a lack of understanding of the facts; some of her statements are outright wrong.

Her commentary: “... on Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge — the only refuge that had actually had water — Fish and Wildlife Service staff caved in to political pressure and allowed a rancher to turn his cattle loose on public lands that are supposed to be protected for wildlife. They did so without any public notice or even a real plan for managing the cattle once they were loose on the refuge.”
My point is that a very specific and real plan was in place. Cattle were not loose, but carefully managed and rotated within fenced and controlled areas. These fenced areas are not part of the open marshlands. No irrigation was performed on the pastured areas and cattle were not placed in areas that “actually had water.” Also, fewer cattle were placed than the same area has carried previously.
The water present in adjacent refuge areas is controlled both by the natural lake level and by head-gates and massive pumps.
That water is pumped and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation as they contribute to the overall Basin water needs. By managing the water as well as the ground, the FWS benefits both wildlife and agriculture.
In her commentary she states that “... cows were turned loose on public lands (the refuge) that are supposed to be protected for wildlife.”
What she failed to note is that the decision to place those cows was based first and foremost on the need to restore that area of the refuge to habitat beneficial to birds and other wildlife.