Community raises money to support Oregon cattle ranchers
Some 425 supporters of Oregon cattle ranchers showed up Feb. 27 at a benefit auction and raised more than $72,000 to help local ranchers pay legal costs to defend cattle grazing on public lands.
“The turnout in little ol’ John Day and the support for our cause to protect grazing rights on public lands was outstanding,” said Ken Brooks, an Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) member who helped organize the fundraiser.
The event—a prime rib dinner and auction at Grant County Fairgrounds—is the second held by the ranchers, who are involved in ongoing litigation over grazing rights in the Malheur National Forest. The proceeds go to the OCA’s Stewardship Fund to help cattle ranchers known as the Five Rivers Grazing Permittees fight their legal battle.
The group holds permits to graze their cattle on Malheur National Forest allotments. The ranchers have sued the U.S. Forest Service over what they perceive to be unrealistic grazing standards. According to OCA President Bill Hoyt, the intent of the lawsuit was also to counter ongoing litigation from the Oregon Natural Desert Association which blames grazing for damage to endangered fish species and riparian habitat.
“We certainly don’t oppose standards to protect fish and wildlife; in fact, Oregon’s cattle ranchers are some of the most passionate protectors of fish and wildlife habitat,” Hoyt said. “Our concern is the standards aren’t properly written.” — WLJ