April 2014 a group of public minded citizens replaced a section of fence around Lost Lake in the Gilpin Grasslands to better protect the area from off-road vehicle traffic and damage by range cows. The replacement fence was built as "wildlife friendly fencing".
|New fence protecting riparian vegetation using minimal setback|
The Original Fence: was built by Range Branch and Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources (MFLNRO) a few years ago to partly address cow damage and actions of off-road vehicles including mud-boggers. The installation was one of several made in the Gilpin which included fencing and waterers and were done at public expense. As is common, these installations were poorly planned, badly executed and non-wildlife friendly. As in the Gilpin and elsewhere these installations have usually failed to prevent the damage they were supposedly designed to prevent. Much of the non-friendly fencing was located along the edge of drop-offs substantially increasing the hazard to wildlife. See Montana State Wildlife Friendly Fencing brochure: here
Public complaints: despite several years of public concerns over the effectiveness of the installations, no changes or improvements were made.
A Waste of Public Funds: The writer does not know all of the motivations of the public-spirited group that re-fenced part of Lost lake at their personal expense and time, but on the basis of his own experience has surmised motivations would include a complete lack of confidence that MFLNRO and Range Branch are properly representing the public interest on public lands. I could go on, and I will…..See expanded version: here
Waterer not activated::June 19th 2014 we saw that a waterer installed near Lost Lake had never been activated after cows arrived. New cow damage to the Lost Lake fence and riparian areas resulted. After MFLNRO were notified of the damage they offered some specious and ass-covering reasons why the waterer was not activated and blamed the cow damage on the new fence. Their reasoning is simply not credible. Although MFLNRO advised that cows were supposedly moved out of the area before June 19th, the reality was that numbers of cows were still in the area and continued to do damage. Cows remained in the area until October or later.
Ministry Investigating ‘Random Act of Public Good’
We hear that MFLNRO is now "investigating" the new Lost Lake fence, possibly with the intent of punishing those responsible.
We suggest that MFLNRO acknowledge that the new structure has partly fixed a problem of the Ministry’s own making and has done so at no taxpayer expense. The new fence portion has provided an example and future model for "wildlife friendly fencing" that could address an issue that the Ministry has so far avoided. While the Ministry might be acting to discourage any further "Random Acts of Public Good," we suggest the Ministry accept the new fence as a lesson and model and publicly congratulate those responsible.
The Future of Cattle Grazing on Public Land:
While the foregoing might suggest a call for MFLNRO to do a better job, this writer is of the opinion that cattle grazing on public lands should cease as it is environmentally and economically unjustifiable.
Future blog and web articles will cover these issues.
An extended version of this post including other pics