Newspaper column: It is not just a ranch, it is a home and family

Historic Methodist Church in Austin, Nev.

Historic Methodist Church in Austin, Nev.

AUSTIN, Nev. — There was standing room only in the Austin Community Center — housed in the historic old Methodist Church perched on a hill above Main Street.

Decked out in boots and jeans, large metal belt buckles, baseball caps with logos and every cowboy hat blocking style imaginable were 100 or so ranchers, ranch hands, wives and elected officials, as reported in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

They came this past week from across Central Nevada in search of tactics and strategies that would allow them to preserve their uniquely Western lifestyle and livelihood in the face of the most voracious predator know to the cattle and sheep industry — the federal public land bureaucracy, especially the Bureau of Land Management.

Jake Tibbitts modertes meeting

Jake Tibbitts moderates meeting

“The purpose of this workshop today is not to just talk about issues. We all know what the issues are. We could sit around and complain about them all day long,” workshop moderator Jake Tibbitts, the natural resources manager for Eureka County, told the assemblage. “We all know what they are. We really want to focus on the solutions, the tools at hand, whether it is the rights you have out there or whether it is within the current laws that you can leverage and use, the way you can work with your county commissioners, your local elected officials, your state representatives, state agencies.”

All the ranchers have private land but the vast majority of the acreage on which they graze their cattle and sheep is managed by one federal agency or another. Over the past several decades those agencies have found one excuse or another to severely ratchet down the number of animals allowed — drought, assorted endangered species, too many wild horses. Nevada has lost half of its breeding cows over the past three years alone — down to only 300,000 head compared to more than a million in the 1980s.

Duane Coombs, owner of Smith Creek Ranch, explained it is about more than rights and fees. In 2000 his ranch was facing a demand for a 50 percent reduction in AUMs (animal units per month).  “We determined that wasn’t sustainable for us.”

While talking with a BLM horse expert — when there were about 500 percent more horses in the local AML (appropriate management level) than it could handle — Coombs said he asked him, “Is there something we can do with these horses?

“He said, ‘Well, really what you’ve got to do is go home and figure it is a broken system and go on and forget about it.’

“And I told him, ‘Sir, this is my home. I am home. I can’t go forget about it.’”

While talking about grazing fees and protecting various species and the land itself, it is too easy to forget that it also is about homes and families — often several generations of families who call the land home.

Read the entire column at Ely or Elko.

More than 100 crowded into church to talk about ranchers' issues with the BLM.

More than 100 crowded into the church to talk about ranchers’ issues with the BLM.

9 comments on “Newspaper column: It is not just a ranch, it is a home and family

  1. Winston Smith says:

    The first thing these ranchers need to know is that the fedbots want them out of business. After all, beef is being slowly marginalized by the feds, and will eventually be prized out of the average Joe’s budget. This is no accident. Yes petey, it is a CONSPIRACY!

    Think of it, one or more fedbots planning to eliminate beef (and other things) from our diets. It’s all about control, as per usual.

  2. Athos says:

    For the children!

  3. Winston Smith says:

    Oops, it may be “priced” and “prized”, who knows…

  4. Vernon Clayson says:

    I don’t believe any of the bastards holding office now or their followers can live or last long enough to stop the taste for beef most of us have. I mean real beef, not the excuse for beef in fast food restaurants.

  5. Milty says:

    “Think of it, one or more fedbots planning to eliminate beef (and other things) from our diets. It’s all about control, as per usual.”

    As per usual, there’s also a global warming angle to the whole “let’s ban beef and force everyone to be a vegetarian” thing.

    Hey Nyp, is reading “Mother Jones” more or less impressive to you than reading “The Nation”?

  6. Steve says:

    Save the planet! Eat grass fed beef!

  7. Rincon says:

    Nevada produces 0.52% of U.S. beef. Compared to private land production, the beef produced on BLM land is a flyspeck. The federal government still should divest its holdings, but I think the market for beef is safe.

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