From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 10 - June 2, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

WWP touts buyouts, ends year in hole

by Cat Urbigkit

"In the financial realm, 2004 was a year with many successes and some setbacks for Western Watersheds Project," according to one of the Idaho-based anti-public land livestock grazing organization's publications. "The year started out with a flurry of expansion for WWP including the move to a new headquarters office in the E.G. Willis Building in Hailey and the hiring of additional staff to support fundraising efforts, other state offices and some administrative work."

But not all was well: "In mid-spring 2004 some anticipated major funding did not materialize and staff had to be reduced and other financial cutbacks made to sustain our efforts through the summer and fall. Because of this setback, WWP was obliged to borrow funds from its commercial line-of-credit to cover expenses for about four months. Additional sources of funding support from many generous contributors helped WWP get over the period of financial stress and helped regain a near income-expense balance by the end of the year."

The year ended with WWP suffering a $17,000 deficit, although it reported that its total liquid assets at the end of 2004 exceeded $125,000, while its total assets and liabilities amounted to almost $1.5 million.

WWP received $480,399 in income in 2004, but spent $497,779. Major expenses include over $200,000 in payroll expenses, $61,639 in contract services and $50,028 in legal fees.

The organization had a busy year raising a fuss about livestock grazing, including grazing in Wyoming. WWP'S Wyoming director Jonathan Ratner of Pinedale reported that it was a time for buyouts and other initiatives to protect large areas of Wyoming. He reported that a group of organizations, including the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others completed a buyout on the 62,000-acre Wyoming Range Allotment Complex. This is the allotment complex held by Sweetwater County sheepman Bill Taliaferro that the Forest Service determined last year it would like to see retired.

Ratner wrote: "This permit buyout permanently closes the northern half of the complex to livestock grazing, while the southern half will be set aside as an emergency grass bank that will not be allowed to be grazed at all until certain vegetative criteria are met. Since it will take an estimated 75-100 years to meet these criteria, we feel this win-win solution will be a real victory for wildlife and wildlands."

Ratner's WWP column also noted his organization is "gathering momentum on a historic opportunity to protect over 180,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat" that consists of the Fish Creek and Bacon Creek grazing allotments of the Gros Ventre/Upper Green River region of the Bridger-Teton National Forest currently held by Rudy Stanko.

"WWP expects that his grazing permits will be revoked within the next six to eight months," Ratner wrote. "This unique window of opportunity has the entire conservation community excited and motivated to do what it takes to make sure that these two allotments finally get the protection they need."

The two Stanko allotments are adjacent to the Black Rock/Spread Creek allotment that was subject to a buyout last year, further shrinking the size of the grazing range available to western livestock producers. Each one of these buyouts has been called a "win-win" situation by the organizations putting up the money to get livestock off the public lands involved.

WWP is also interested in seeking a legislative appropriation to buy out livestock producers on the controversial Green Mountain Common Allotment near Jeffrey City. Again calling it a "win-win solution," WWP wants the program to include purchase of private property inholdings in the allotment as well. This allotment complex has suffered from severe drought for more than five years and livestock numbers have been drastically reduced in response to these conditions.

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