But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. ~Matthew 10:19

Support your local ranchers and help protect the harvest

Posted: 2015-06-14

The Forest Service land surrounding Heber-Overgaard has historically been utilized by local ranchers since this area was settled in the late 1800’s. The tradition continues today and many families in our community are involved in the Cowboy life.

This time of year we are gathering cattle, branding and vaccinating the new calves and driving them to the summer pastures on the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Tourists and residents of Bison Ranch occasionally see a herd being driven Southwest behind the community. They get a small taste of the Wild West with this experience. The cattle are bellering, the cow dogs are barking and the cowboys and cowgirls are whistling and whooping at the cattle to move them along.

We believe it is important for people to understand the rancher’s relationship with the Forest Service Land that is utilized and paid for by the Ranch Owner. We want people to understand why cattle graze in the forest. The Forest Service Mission states, “Our mission, as set forth by law, is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people.” It also states, among other things that they are supposed to:

  • Help States and communities to use the forests wisely in order to promote rural economic development and a quality rural environment.
  • Developing and providing scientific and technical knowledge aimed at improving our capability to protect, manage, and use forests and rangelands.

This forest that surrounds our community is meant to be utilized as a resource, for multiple uses including, camping and hiking, cutting firewood to heat our homes, hunting and grazing cattle. It does contribute to the economy of our area.

As an example, the ranch that my family is involved with pays approximately $1600 a month to lease the pastures where the cattle graze from May through October. A portion of these fees are paid to Navajo County.

The Forest Service range management plan allows them to use between 25-35 percent of the forage (grass) in each pasture. The cattle are monitored and managed to meet this requirement. They are moved to a different location once they have utilized the allowed amount.

CowboysCowboys of Heber-Overgaard. Photo courtesy of Lynn Parsons.

These cattle help provide food for our country. They are part of America’s harvest. It is vital that we protect our harvest so that we can continue to enjoy a reliable American made product.

Attacks on the food producers of our country by various activist groups are common these days. That is the reason a non-profit group was started to help educate the general population on the pressures our food producers are experiencing. You can learn more about this athttp://protecttheharvest.com/.

In California farms are losing their ability to water their crops due to the Delta Smelt, a small fish that is the tool of environmental activists. In Nevada ranchers are being put out of business due to herds of feral horses that are not being managed.

Here in the Apache Sitgreaves forest we have a growing herd of feral horses and the activists who support them are demanding that they continue to grow in numbers and just be “natural and wild and free.” They file litigation to prohibit the Forest Service from doing their job and managing the horses. They spread propaganda like wild fire, claiming the rancher is evil and greedy. I have read many derogatory comments on their Facebook page, slandering the local ranchers and members of our community.

Currently they have the Heber Allotment Draft Environmental Assessment linked on their page and available here:

http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/97734_FSPLT3_2465346.pdf

This document is regarding the renewal of the grazing permit for our ranch. They state, “We would like for people to draw their own conclusions and take a few minutes to write to the address the Forest Service has provided to voice your opinions as to if you are for the grazing allotment or oppose it.” They consider the rancher “the most dangerous thing in the forest for the horses” and they want the cattle gone.

We would like people to consider some of the values that ranchers bring to the forest:

  • They provide water that all the animals consume and would die without.
  • They improve water sources by cleaning out tanks and by building new ones.
  • They maintain fences to keep animals off the highways.
  • They manage the cattle to prevent overgrazing.
  • The ranch land provides “open space” that we all enjoy. If not used as a ranch it would likely be sold and developed.
  • They provide food for America.

We would appreciate people voicing some common sense support for the ranch. Please comment to the Forest Service at comments-southwestern-apache-sitgreaves-black-mesa@fs.fed.us

Your comments should include the following:

  • name, address and email
  • Title of the proposed project in the subject line (Heber Allotment Analysis Project)
  • Specific facts or comments with supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider. (Chris James, District Ranger-Deciding Official)
  • Your signature
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