Borah Peak/ Lost River Range grazing abuse

Updated last on Monday, October 2, 2006 9:55 PM

The BLM and Lost River Ranger district of the US Forest Service do a rotten job managing cattle in and adjacent to the roadless area. It has only gotten worse over years despite occasional victories by the Western Watersheds Project forcing consideration of bull trout.

Recently Backpacker Magazine contacted me about doing a piece on the Lost River Range as a hidden gem. I helped them, but I wasn't able to furnish a lot of attractions beyond the incredible rugged mountains, natural arches, and stupendous rock formations. There is a good reason for this. Livestock grazing is out of control. These dry and cold mountains are not suitable for livestock.

Yet, in many places every spring is trashed into shit and mud by cattle. The streambanks are eroding. The wet meadows are turning to dust. Every year many meadows lose a hundred years worth of hard won soil.

Here are some photos and links.

East Fork of the Pahsimeroi Valley. Lost River Range
What fine mountains! Photo Katie Fite. August 2006

On the other hand, a wider view gives a different perception. Photo Katie Fite. August 2006
East Fork of the Pahsimeroi cattle

Cow-churned marsh
East Fork Pahsimeroi. Cow-churned Marsh. Photo by Katie Fite

East Fork Pahsimeroi eroded and eroding banks
The Forest Service's idea of a cold, shaded bull trout stream. Photo by Katie Fite. August 2006

Lost River Range alpine meadow being destroyed
Upper Pahsimeroi sub-alpine meadow well on it way to destruction by cattle.
Notice the entrenched stream. This lowers the water table. Notice the "cow humps"
developing along the stream and the dust pit on the far right. There is also encroachment
by sagebrush. Photo by Katie Fite. Nov. 2005.

Mike Hudak, a grazing activist, has 2 interesting photo essays showing the impact of livestock in the area, and what it could be like if their numbers were reduced and management improved.

Finally, I took this photo of a small wet meadow on its way to destruction on Oct. 1, 2006. It is along the Pass Creek road.

Cow humps in Pass Creek. Lost River Range. Salmon-Challis National Forest
Cow humps in a wet meadow along Pass Creek. Oct. 1, 2006
Photo by Ralph Maughan

Return to the Borah Peak roadless area page.