Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Enough cow pies at Kane Lake

Has anyone else noticed the herd of cows grazing up the Kane Lake Trail and into Kane Lake recently? A herd of around 20 or more bovines have completely trashed the trail near water and wetland segments while fertilizing the entire length of the trail. It smells and looks like a barnyard. The scenery up high is still beautiful but the ground level is really nasty. I first noticed the cows halfway up the trail on Aug. 21 and commiserated with the other hikers. High alpine forest and rock ledges do not seem grazing-appropriate on highly popular public lands trails. By Sept. 11, the cows had reached Kane Lake and were seen in the lake and camped out around it doing what cows do. There are signs posted that overnight campers are not allowed to camp within 200 yards of Kane Lake. This was done to preserve its pristine qualities and fragile ecosystem. So much for that concept.

In the Wildhorse C&H Grazing Allotment, 2011 Annual Operating Instructions approved by Salmon-Challis National Forest, Lost River Ranger District in Mackay on May 6, 2011, the agreement clearly reads: "Grazing Unit Rotation at Kane & Summit Creek, estimated days 16, from 7/23-8/7. These dates are an estimate and may vary + 2-5 days under normal circumstances. Cattle should be discouraged from using trailhead areas that access high mountain lakes. Cattle will be kept out of the Wildhorse Campground and above. Kane Canyon: salt should be placed at least 1/2 mile below Kane Lake trailhead and in all areas 1/4 mile from water."

Somebody is asleep at the wheel and has crashed the car badly. The grazing dates are overextended by a month, the cattle have grazed up Kane Creek into the lake and there is no sign of a rancher and the salt licks are a joke. But there are plenty of cows and their unfortunate residue. If you have experienced this mismanagement of our public lands or are incensed as much as I am at having an incredibly beautiful area and favorite hike destroyed, please contact Diane Weaver, Lost River District ranger, Box 507, Mackay, ID, 83251, or (208) 588-3400.

I am going to suggest not renewing any grazing allotments near Kane Lake, Wildhorse Canyon or Copper Basin that allow cattle near trailheads, recreational wetlands or high-mountain access. People come to Sun Valley for the superb recreation opportunities and the pristine mountains, not a stinky feedlot experience.

Christine N. Cole

Blaine County

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