Cattle routinely graze in Inyo Federal Wilderness area, which are off limits to vehicles (often even on established roads). I walked an area above Cartago today that was otherwise pristine but for havoc wreaked by cloven hoofs on the delicate protective crust of Owens Valley floor and slopes.
Yesterday, I walked to the nearby Cartago Springs wetlands, also publicly owned (State of California) and it too is occupied by cattle (almost certainly without permit). Some Fish and Game people who manage the site think it should be the first place tourists from the south visit in Owens Valley, but it’s nothing to send a postcard home about with its deep hoof prints and signature plops of manure.
It’s difficult to image anything worse for the public ecosystem that heavy hoofed, methane-laced dung generators, otherwise known as someone’s beef-for-profit.
According to this article: http://www.mikehudak.com/Articles/Chesapeake9909.html,
“Livestock’s impact on the number of endangered species is approximately equal to that of logging and mining combined: 22% impacted by livestock, compared to 12% by logging, and 11% by mining.
Contrary to common thought western public lands do not supply a significant amount of U.S. beef. With regard to the 48 contiguous states, forage on western public lands accounts for only 2% of the total feed consumed by beef cattle, while beef cattle producers with federal permits represent only about 3% of the U.S. total. Even as a contribution to the economies of the eleven western states, public lands ranching is insignificant: providing only 0.06% of the jobs, and 0.04% of the income.”
And since the rule of the range is that cattle may gaze anywhere that is not fenced off, who knows how must destruction is wrought by future hamburgers without any compensation at all to taxpayer and citizens.
Similarly, land allegedly preserved in a natural state through DWP ownership is routinely leased for grazing. Some of the rarest and most fantastic locations in the Alabama Hills are desecrated by beef, and the ‘restored’ lower Owens River area has been increasingly trampled since the reluctant return of some water by DWP.
Have a cherished source of watercress from an Owens Valley spring or waterway? Not so quick, for parasitic liver flukes that cattle host, encyst on watercress. If humans ingest these larvae, they too can get infected.
While Owens Valley residents may associate this place with romanticized Hollywood images of cowboys, the truth is that it is outdoors enthusiasts that stave off the specter of complete economic apocalypse here. And it’s hard to imagine nature lovers loving the sight of muddy trampled stream banks, or cow paddies and their associated annoying insect populations.
Perhaps it’s time to tell the government hands that took away the people’s land to keep the cows off?