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This looks like the place to add my experience to the discussion. I too spent 35 years working for the Forest Service, mostly on the Wallowa-Whitman, responsible at the end for managment of several range allotments. I have to agree that grazing has the most impact (I purposely don't use the word destruction) of any land managment activity. More than road building, timber harvest and fire. This is because cattle are on the ground every day of the grazing season and go everywhere.
So do elk. The Forest Service has documented negative impacts from elk on Resource Natural Areas. I have little experience with horses on open range but past historical records of year-around horse grazing at the turn of the century are very similar to impacts by cattle.
The question is can we mange cattle(and horses/elk) to keep the impacts from grazing within acceptable limits. I believe elk and horses are going can be managed, either by predators or hunting/removal. Cattle can also be managed but the current system of drift fences and pasture rotation is not working. New technology (collars, GPS tracking) and old technology (pushback riders, salting) could work but the return on the investment and the habits of the land managers and the ranchers don't allow for innovation.
posted 4 years, 2 months ago
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