Distributed via BLM Information Memorandum No. 81-229, Change 1, July 23, 1981
EARLY HISTORY of TAYLOR GRAZING ACT in
The Taylor Grazing Act was passed June 28, 1934 to stop injury to the public lands by preventing over-grazing and soil deterioration; to provide for orderly use, improvement and development; to stabilize the livestock industry dependent upon the Public Range and for other purposes.
Farrington Carpenter was appointed the first Director or Grazing with a few men, mostly loaned from Geological and General Land offices to carry out the purpose of the act. He started to carry out the intent of the Taylor Act. It was apparent regions would be formed to centralize the administration, the region was then divided into districts. Livestock operation was the major industry in the eleven western states so it was easy to see there was a great deal of interest as so many operations depended entirely on the public lands.
This period was immediately after the depression and we had many roving sheep men who traveled almost the year round. In this area, they were known as Utah sheep men during the summer, and Colorado sheep men during the winter in Utah. They were the same men and a pain in the neck, whether it was winter or summer. The local stockmen who owned a base for their operations were gradually going out of.business as roving sheep men passed by. They over-grazed the area and moved on to the next leaving the local operator without feed and soon out of business.
During this period, cattlemen with hay producing ranches adjoining the forest, were going broke. The sheep men started to buy these ranch and forest permits. This was giving them control and a base, then they would trail across the country spring and fall to winter on the desert in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. Eastern Utah was occupied by small cattle outfits operating on the lower range the year round. The sheep trailing over their range caused a great deal of hardship on the local cattlemen.
I was assigned to Colorado region 8 in the spring of 1935. The problem looked impossible. We had nothing but the Taylor Grazing Act for a guide. The advisory boards were elected which was the greatest step forward made at that point. On these advisory boards, we had the most prominent stockmen. It wasn't long before they were as much or more interested in the work as the paid employee as their life blood depended on it to be a success. We had no maps except the General Land office township plot, but we were fortunate enough to have eight C C. camps assigned to us we selected boys interested in Drafting and started making maps by putting the Township plots together and obtaining the Land Status from the Assessor's office. This was a big job with inexperienced help and many mistakes were made, but gradually by trial and error, we got some District maps. Then it was apparent that if we were going to stabilize the livestock business and protect the range, we would have to get the stockmen settled down and into one location so we could get some control on numbers and time. The approach was to put an area map on the wall and have each man outline the area he used. You can imagine the way that map looked; but with those lines we gradually drew them tighter and finally got down to allotments. Then we told the permittee that was his share and he had to protect it. If he didn't, he and he alone would suffer. Of course, we had a lot of trespassing, but gradually most of it was eliminated. It wasn't long until the District Grazier knew who were the worst offenders and could keep watch on those. We didn't try to be strict on numbers, but every year the Grazier and the user would examine the allotment as to over-grazing. The biggest share or the stockmen were good cooperators, a few caused a lot of trouble. But the average man, if he could be shown he was being treated the same as his neighbor, could reach some agreement.
Through the C. C. camps, we obtained the use or several range examiners who made range surveys and commensurate property reports. It was a big job and took a lot or time and work. Often the District Grazier put in 15 hours a day trying to accomplish something. On the whole, we had fine cooperation from the stockmen. We had a few that were dissatisfied. One or the big cases was the Joe Livingston case. He was a transient sheep man from Western Utah. He was fighting priority and we spent many days in hearings and in the field. The burden or proof rested with the few of us here in region 8. We had good men on the advisory boards and especially two lawyers that have given willingly of their time and advice. These men were Frank Delaney of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, an advisory board member of Colorado District 1and representing the cow men. The other was Dan Hughs of Montrose, member of District 4 board representing sheep men.
The ruling from the Washington office was changing all the time and when we got a new directive it was our policy to discuss this directive with Dan and Frank. After much discussion, we could agree on how to apply this directive to our region. It saved us many a headache. Both men were honest and straight forward and we were certain that once we had the go ahead from them, the sheep men and cattlemen on a whole would accept the interpretation and if the directive was too much out of line, Dan and Frank were not backward in going directly to the Director and Secretary of the Interior office with an objection and their word carried a lot of weight.
Some Regions objected to the lawyers getting into a case. We in Region 8 encouraged the use of a lawyer as a great many times it was easier to explain our action to an attorney than a stockman who knew nothing of any other operation, except his immediate area. We always had Frank Delaney and Dan Hughs to fall back on because the good lawyers were prone to disagree with either of them on matters pertaining to the Taylor Grazing Act.
We had eight C. C. camps, the supervisors personnel were all politically appointed. Congressman Ed Taylor had the say as to the appointments. He was a fine man and very interested in our work as he was the author or the Taylor Grazing Act. He wanted these jobs to be given to well qualified men and I noticed this; if a man was recommended and qualified, it didn't make any difference if he was a Democrat or Republican. I suppose that is why Taylor was Congressman for thirty-three years; both Republicans and Democrats voted for him.
One instance I recall: A foreman in one of our camps was very much put out because he hadn't been promoted to Camp Superintendent. He informed all concerned when Congressman Taylor returned to Glenwood Springs for the summer he would have us put in our proper place. He went to see Taylor and came back very subdued. We had no more trouble with him and he did his work well with no complaints. Through the grapevine we heard that the Congressman told him he thought the camp was being well operated and every one was trying to get the job done. If he wasn't satisfied with his job, there were at least 250 qualified men that would be glad to take his place.
The success of the C. C. camps in Region 8 can be accredited to the fine job done by Howard Beehler, the Supervisor. Howard worked extremely hard to create a close working relationship with the Army as well as cooperation between the District Graziers and Camp Superintendent. The Army had certain responsibilities and the Grazing Service theirs. Whenever there was any mix up between the Army officers and the Camp personnel, Howard and the Investigating Army officer would go together to investigate. We had no one sided report and they were able to settle the differences right on the ground. The Army personnel always attended our staff meetings and our parties. We had trouble and differences, but they were always settled.
The camps did a great deal of range improvement. It would have been impossible to make the progress we did without their help. I also feel we helped a great many C. C. boys find themselves and get started in a way of life that was rewarding. Some of them are still in this area married and in business.
In addition to the District Grazier and the C. C. C. Supervisor, we had small groups of good younger men to help with the leg work such as Evert Brown, Henry Snyder, Doug Cross, Sid Whitstone, Frank Morgan, J. D. Dillard and several more for the field work. Then we had Moe Diamond, Alvin Magnall, Lawrence Capps and a few others to take care of the clerical work. Our progress was not the accomplishment of any one man but the concentrated effort of the entire group.
To demonstrate the fast changing rules and interpretation of the Taylor Grazing Act, following are the changes by date: March 2, 1936, January 28, 1937, May 10, 1937, June 14, 1937, and the Federal Range Code approved August 31, 1938, with amendment approved September 18, 1939. So you can see action taken today might be amended tomorrow.
Colorado District 1 was established July 9, 1935 and contained 27,081,716 acres of which 966,207 acres was later withdrawn to make District 7. The original District 1 took in the White River Drainage and the north side of the Colorado River up to Glenwood Springs. This was a large, unwieldy District with a great many local area problems. After several years, we decided to separate the Colorado River Drainage and with a portion of Colorado 3 district, established District 7. This left the Drainage of the White River from the Forest Boundary on the east to the Utah line on the west with Meeker, Colorado the county seat of Rio Blanco as the supply point and central seat of business.
There were many problems in this District as it extended from the high forest range to the low winter range along the Utah line The local cattlemen in the area next to the Forest raised lots of hay and fed their stock about six months of the year, using the Forest for summer range and the Public Land next to the Forest for spring and fall.
We had the local cattlemen in the western part who summered on the Book Cliff mountains and wintered along the White River, with very little cultivated feed, making it almost strictly a range operatIon. One of the operators told me he had a very hard winter. He had to feed his saddle horses two sacks of oats.
The sheep men had bought some of the ranches up near the Forest and used them for spring and fall, summered on the Forest, and wintered on the low land near the Utah line and some over the line into Utah. They were crowding the cattlemen up in the high country for spring and fall and crowding the cow men in the lower western end of the District for winter range. The bad feeling between them was strong. In several cases, it had reached the six shooter stage.
Colorado had passed the Reese Oldland law, which was a range law that enabled the courts to designate the Range, either as cow country or sheep and was enforced by the local law officers. This had been done in several cases and was used to help establish priority for the users. There had been a lot of trespassing on the cattle range. We held though, that they couldn't establish priority, so this gave some protection to the local ranchers. To qualify, they had to have priority and be able to maintain the livestock on owned property when not using Public Domain.
Then the big hassle started. The cattlemen in the western part of the District supported their livestock about one month and the ones in the Eastern part about six months and the sheep men ran in both portions; some with large holdings and some with perhaps only a homestead and a little leased land.
Our problem was very simple. All we and the Advisory Board had to do was to make a standard that would work over the entire District. We tried to separate, but where to change from the high standard to the low was the problem. We couldn't draw a line between two operators and make them operate under two different requirements that we could apply to the entire district. By many trials and errors, we worked out a commensurate requirement that we could apply to the entire district. Then we started to establish allotments to control the trespassing and crowding in certain areas. We had a good Board, and it wasn't long until the sheep men and the cattlemen were looking at it as a common problem and gradually we established allotments and then the responsibility was on the operator. We of the Grazing Service, sweat many a pint of blood, but we were getting a little control all the time. This job just couldn't have been done without the help of the Advisory Boards. They gave willingly of their time with no compensation. The young range examiners we were assigned were good men, they knew the technical part or range examination and they could tell whether the plants were coming back or being killed out with the advice of the local stockmen as to how much livestock had been using the range. This way we could get an estimate of what should be carried. When the range examiners were making a survey of the range, we tried to get local stockmen to go with them. This way the examiner could show the stockman the condition of the range, and the stockman could educate the examiner on the practical operation. We were not raking recommendations that were impractical because this would cause a lot or disruption in a man's operation.
Charles E. Seymour was the first District Grazier in Colorado 1. He was very fair and tried to solve every problem on its merits. The longer the stockmen worked with Ted, the better they liked him. He had a Forest Service background and at one time, had had his own stock ranch. No one could push him around, but he was very willing to help an operator who was trying to make a go of an outfit. He would help him by telling him where to improve his operation so he could become qualified.
The process or bringing some orderly use and protection to the range in the early days of District I goes to the credit of Ted Seymour.
Colorado District 3 was established April 3, 1935. It contained 1,673,296 acres of which 487,000 acres were later taken to make District 7.The original District 3 was the drainage of the Gunnison River and the drainage on the south side of the Colorado River. The drainage on the south side of the Colorado River was later taken into District 7.
Montrose, Colorado, county seat of Montrose County, was the location of the District office. District 3 had similar problems with District 1. The portion above Montrose was higher with big hay producing ranches, which had a six months feeding period. Down the river the winters were less severe and the feeding period became shorter. The upper ranches used the Public Domain for spring and fall; and summered on the Forest. The extreme lower part of the District had some operations that wintered their livestock on the open range, except in very severe winters.
The sheep men operated on an entirely different system. They spent spring, summer, and fall on the District and then trailed to the Utah desert for winter. This caused a great deal of trouble as these trailing sheep herds were not concerned with anything but keeping the sheep fed along these trails. The local stockmen were at a great disadvantage. They were "eat out" twice a year, spring and fall. When I say "eat out", I mean just that. If you didn't want your lawn eat off, you better guard the gate.
One of the biggest head aches was the American Flats. It was an area of high mountain land above timber line and not included in the Forest because there were so many patented mining claims there. Some sheepmen would lease a few mining claims and move in. It was dog eat dog, and the area was very much overgrazed. We had no control over the mining claims and the land pattern was such that trespassing was almost impossible. Finally, we get some order to the use through the users and the Forest Service. The users had to trail through the Forest to get to American Flats. After the users got together and worked out a plan of use as to the leases on mining claims and Public Domain, the Forest Service would not give trailing permits to any one who didn't have a permit to graze from the Grazing Service. This more orderly use was the accomplishment of Russell B. Rose, the District Grazier of Districts 3 and 4. Russell had been a stockman and operator of livestock from the Pueblo, Colorado area. He understood the operation of livestock. He was also a diplomat and it took everything he had to bring some kind of order to the chaos that existed in this District. We had good men on the Board, some very radical at first, but by easy steps they began looking at the problem as a whole and not as to whether it affected sheep or cattle. The feeling was strong between the sheep and cattle interests, but by gradual degrees, this was being eliminated. I remember one instance at a District 3 Board meeting. We had a strong feeling of cattle versus sheep on the District 3 Board; on each side we had a Board member who was very bitter and it was difficult to get any agreement by the Boards. These agitators were always stirring up trouble. One day, I remember, they got in a big hassle over something not too important and the sheep men got up and walked out. One sheep man was asleep and had taken off his shoes. When he woke up and looked around, he was the only sheep man left, so he grabbed his shoes and left on the run.
There was a small area along Highway 50 near the Delta and Mesa County line that was really hot. The cow men from Kannah Creek and Whitewater used this for spring, fall, and some winter. A few sheep men from Delta, Hotchkiss, and Montrose used it to winter their sheep, then to add to the turmoil, the sheep men from American Flats trailed through the area both spring and fall. The feeling was strong between cattle and sheep men and we had a few on both sides who were unreasonable.
We established a trail that finally got the trailing sheep men to truck and ship by train to the lower range. A few of the die hards trailed for several years, but they found out it was not feasible as they had to haul water and feed over most or it.
A line was finally drawn between the cattle and the sheep and fenced. Both sides were dissatisfied, but they could not agree. It wouldn't surprise me if I went out there today, after 36 years, I would find those on both sides of the line thinking they got the worst of the deal.
The main trouble was that the area was about ten times too small. If we could have used some land stretchers on it, everything would have been fine.
District 2 was declared a district on April 3, 1935 with 566,081 acres and was located on the head waters of the South Platte River, commonly known as North Park, the head of the Colorado and Grand Rivers known as Middle Park including the area around Mintern and Eagle, Colo.
This District was high mountain range bordering the Forest and was used mainly as spring and fall range with the exception of horses on the wind swept ridges for winter range. The horses were used in the haying operations and only used one to two months of the year. The rest of the time, they were turned out to rustle for themselves. On the high ridges and some south slopes, the wind and sun kept the slopes clear of snow and the horses wintered on bunch grass that was not used during the summer because of no water. When spring came, the horses would drift and feed on the range under the Forest Boundary which was very much needed for spring grazing of the cattle and sheep. The feeding period was from five to six months and took an average of two tons of hay to winter a cow, so everyone was anxious to turn out in the spring as soon as the grass showed above the ground, which of course, caused an over-grazed condition. The grass never had a chance to get a good start.
There was no large area of Public Domain like you found in the Districts to the west. It was intermingled with private lands. With the help of Jack White, Manager of Beatcher Land and Livestock Company and one C C camp, we gradually accumulated the land status so we could make private allotments. There was very little controversy over these allotments. We had very good men on the board who knew the conditions on the ground. Prairie Dogs and cactus were two of our big troubles. With the use of the C C boys, we put on a rodent control system and also dug and burned many acres of cactus. I recall one amusing incident of a sheep man in North Park. There were several bands of sheep that trailed from the south end of the Park to the north end to use the Public Domain and the Forest. They had to follow along the county road through private lands and then spread out where Public Land was available. This was causing a lot of trouble with the cow men using this same Public Land in the spring, so we thought it w'as advisable to establish a trail by exchange of use on private land where necessary and confine the sheep to a quarter mile wide strip. This way, they could get through and out of the hair of the other users. We were having some trouble getting the job done; as usual one or two thought this was a chance to get even and were holding out. We had spent several days of hard work and worry trying to solve this problem. At the last minute when everything was about cleared up, the biggest operator using the trail came in and very seriously said,"As far as that trail is concerned you can forget it for my part. I'm going to trade my sheep for bees and fly them back and forth."
That relieved the tension and everything went forward.
The original Board of District 2 I think was one of the greatest ever elected. We had a Colorado Senator and President of the Colorado Cattlemens Association, President of the Wool Growers Association, Chairman of the Production Credit Association, manager of the largest livestock operation in Colorado, and a trouble shooter for a large Denver bank. Every man was successful and respected for his knowledge. We of the Grazing Service had a chance to learn a lot from them.
John F Johnston was the first District Grazier of District 2 and he supervised District 6. He was a big, fun loving Irishman with a great sense of humor; vary fair and honest. He talked the same language as the stockmen, as he was raised on n stock ranch and had several years with the Forest service. He had a smile and a joke for everyone, but he wasn't soft and no one could push him around.
I think a large percent of the original allotrnents are unchanged.
THE DOLORES GRAZING DISTRICT
The Dolores Grazing District was established under authority of the Taylor Grazing Act by Secretarial order on April 8, 1935, covering all the "Public Domain" lands scattered throughout the Southwest Corner of Colorado with a total acreage of 1,177,233 Acres, with the largest main bodies of those lands in the watersheds of the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers in the Counties of Mesa, Montrose, San Miguel, Dolores and Montezuma. Smaller amounts of range, generally of a "checker board" land pattern with privately controlled lands in the watersheds of the San Juan, Animas, LaPlata and Mancos Rivers, with many small isolated tracts entirely surrounded by lands in private ownership in the Counties of Dolores, Montezuma, LaPlata and Archuleta.
The District Office was first located in Norwood, Colorado, with office space on the 2nd floor of the Herndon Building, the office space being donated by Mr. Al Herndon, a prominent pioneer cattleman of the area. During World War 2, this office space was shared with the Local Rationing Board One operation at this office, probably unique to District Offices, was the huge coal burning stove centrally located in the one large room of the office. Coal and wood was hauled up to a second story window with a rope and pulley arrangement. Office personnel In those days did all the housekeeping" and janitor work.
In July, 1945, the office was moved to Cortez, Colorado, where it remained for about two years. At about this time Senator McCarren of Nevada lead a fight in congress in which appropriations for the service was successfully blocked resulting in the closing of most district offices in the 11 Western States. Due to lack of operating funds, office records and equipment were moved to Montrose where space was shared by the Ouray D-3 Office. The only office remaining open in Colorado was at Grand Junction. Most all personnel were furloughed.
District Graziers Sidney Whestone and Henry Snyder were the only personnel left in Colorado and without any clerical help. Whetstone held the Grand Junction office down, getting out necessary correspondence using the "two-finger" system of typing while Snyder "rode-herd" on field operations meeting with the various Advisory Boards conducting necessary operations to hold the district systems together. This would not have been possible except by the generous action of all Advisory Boards voting favorably on resolutions to use all available range improvement funds for administrative purposes.
The D-4 office remained with the Montrose Office until July of 1949, at which time it was moved to Durango, Colorado, where it has remained since that time.
The first Advisory Board meeting in D-4 was held at Durango, Colorado, July 22 through July 24, 1935, in which 246 temporary grazing applications were acted upon. In those days, cattle and sheep operators did not associate closely with each other in grazing matters so Warren Ri(illegible)es representing the Division of grazing (as the service was then designated, holding a full divisional status in the office of the Interior Department) wisely separated the District Advisors present into two sections, one for cattle and one for sheep. The minutes of that particular meeting show Mr. Edgar W. Bray of Redvale, Colorado, elected General Chairman of the Board, Mr. Harry Morgan of Dolores, Colorado, Chairman of the Sheep Section, and John Harris of LaPlata, New Mexico, Chairman of the cattle section. Stockmen elected to the first Advisory Board for D-4 were as follows:
Representing Cattle Users
Representing Sheep Users
Most, if not all of these men, have now departed this "Range" and like all of the earliest Advisory Boards, under the Taylor Grazing Act, they were leaders in their respective communities highly respected by all who knew them. It can be said that these men and hundreds like them had good and constructive influence on the members of Congress, particularly Congressman Edward T. Taylor of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and Dan B. Cotton of Vernal, Utah, in shaping and successfully steering the Taylor Act through Congress.
Early division of grazing personnel associated with D-4 are the following:
The problems encountered in most of the public domain range land in the Western States were also common to D-4. Large bands of wild abandoned horses commonly referred to as "Broom-tails" was one. To control this problem, the Advisory Board passed a resolution classifying all the Federal Range in the District for cattle and sheep use only, except a minimum number of domestic mules and horses necessary for handling of bands of sheep or for riders on the cow range (usually not more than five head of horses or mules per band of sheep and usually no more than a few saddle horses per cow outfit. This action by the Board put all bands of horses in trespass and "Horse Wranglers" were encouraged to "round-up" these wild ones and dispose of them. State Brand Inspectors, knowing the problem, were cooperative in clearing them for shipment. The only exception made to this rule was that horses could be permitted in a fenced private allotment of Federal Range. This rule eliminated the wild horses in a short time and did much to stop destructive over-use of the range. These horses used the same range areas year-long, giving the forage plants no chance for growth, recovery or seeding.
"Tramp" sheep herds wintering in New Mexico and Utah, moving into Colorado for summer ranges, were also a problem. However, as soon as the available range was allocated to qualified users with private "base-land" properties, the "Nomad-Tramp" type of operation was eliminated. Most of the public range areas were found in bad shape from over-use with many of the choicer types of browse and grass completely eliminated such as white-sage, 4 winged saltbrush and Native Bluestem Grass, with resultant heavy destructive soil erosion in evidence everywhere. Quite drastic cuts in both numbers of livestock and time of use was necessary to preserve the remaining forage resource and begin some recovery. Range personnel of the division had to do many hours and days of hard unthankfull work to "sell" a workable range program to the users The Advisory Boards in most cases were cooperative and helpful in this conservation program.
One problem which grew into major proportions in District #4 was over-population of Mule Deer on the lower Western Slope of the Uncompahgre Plateau, depleting the winter range areas with many animals dying of starvation. This overgrazing actually killed some Browse, species such as Big Sage and Black Sage and Juniper Trees "hedged" as high as the deer could reach up to feed on them. Young deer, fawns, or short yearlings were "posted" in the late winter and spring grazing period. These examinations often showed ruminant intestines full of thorny cactus with cactus spines protruding through the stomach and intestine walls - and many of these animals died. Through close cooperation between the State Game Department, Grazing Service and the National Forest Service the killing of does was finally authorized by the State in regular and special seasons and the deer numbers were reduced to reasonable numbers for the available winter range forage. This same problem occurred at about the same time in the Sinbad Valley and foothill areas along the East-Southeast Slopes of the LaSal Mountains along the Colorado-Utah boundary. Excellent cooperation was also had with the Utah Game Officials and Forest Service by special seasons allowing the taking of does.
Two CCC Camps in the District did a lot of range improvement work. One was located in Dry Creek Basin in San Miguel County near the Town of Redvale and one was located on Red Mesa near the Town of Hesperus in LaPlata County. This camp later in the CCC Program was moved to West Paradox Valley near the town of Paradox. Some of the more important work projects carried out by these camps were water development, drilling water wells and equipping with pumps and storage tanks, reservoir construction spring developments, fence construction flood control and water spreading works, livestock trail construction, truck trail construction and rodent control, survey and posting of designated stock driveways. Also quite a lot of range survey was done under this program. Recognition should be given here to the Work Superintendents of these two camps, namely George Whatley of the Redvale Camp and Hans P. Aspass of the Paradox Camp, for their high caliber leadership given the young men in work training and good character building programs they carried out.
During World War II, when Uranium became an important ore for construction of the Atomic Bombs, an access road construction program was set up under supervision of the Grazing Service. By this program, many miles of roads were constructed on the Federal Range to the Uranium mines in the Northern part of D-4, where extensive deposits of ore were located, This road program in aiding in the war effort also made possible the reaching of a lot of the range area by truck where prior to this program, range managers had to go by saddle horse and pack outfit. On occasion, this writer has spent 8 to 10 days on a single pack trip into the remote areas accompanied by Advisory Board Committees and the Range Users to inspect the range, pinpoint allotment lines -forage conditions, check available livestock water, and be in a position to assign priorities for various types of range improvement and conservation practices needed for those particular areas.
Most of Colorado District No. 4 was the home of the Ute Indians. Under Treaty between the U. S. and this Tribe, one branch of the Tribe was moved to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation at Ignacio, Colorado, and the Northern branches of the Tribe were moved to a Reservation in the Uintah Basin near Vernal, Utah. The Government under the Treaty was to pay the Indians $1.25 per acre for all of the "Ute" strip as it was familiarly known, as it was appropriated under the homestead laws to early settlers. However, the Government failed to carry out their part of the Treaty and had not paid the Utes for this land. As a result, the Ute Tribe brought suit, which they won, giving them a judgment against the Government for the appraised value of the land. This Litigation required a range survey to determine the surface values. This survey conducted by the Department of Justice proved very helpful to the Grazing Service in several ways, first an inventory of the range, vegetation and soil conditions and maps of the area surveyed, etc. (Incidentally as I recall, the Utes were paid about $32,000,000.00 for the land in the "Ute" strip.)
SAN LUIS GRAZING DISTRICT
Colorado Grazing District #8 was originally established as a part of District #3 and was for several years administered out of the Grand Junction and Montrose offices During this period the District 3 advisory board included two cattlemen and two sheepmen elected from the San Luis Valley where the District 8 lands were located. Range use was predominantly a seasonal drift spring and fall between the home ranches in the center of the valley and the high National Forest areas in the surrounding mountains. Because of the elevation which generally exceeded 7,500 feet above sea level, winter range was very limited and most of the livestock spent the winters in Pastures and feed lots. There was a noticeable absence of movement of livestock long distances to other ranges particularly for winter grazing. One reason for this was economic since there were no large winter range areas available within a reasonable distance. Another reason for this situation was that many of the operators, particularly the Spanish-Americans, ran small family-sized units from their home ranches in the community.
There were a few operators who spent a portion of the time in New Mexico, which joined the district on the south. This presented a special problem in range adjudication since New Mexico was a water base area, whereas Colorado was on a land base. Inter-state problems were eventually worked out cooperatively by the adjoining districts.
A four-month base property requirement was established for the San Luis valley area and horses were forbidden on the range except on fenced individual allotments. An extensive range improvement program was conducted with the aid of a CCC camp located at Saguache, Colorado, before the CCC program was discontinued in 1942.
As time passed and range supervision increased, the problem of administering the area as part of District 3 became more apparent. The two areas were separated by the Continental Divide and lacked similarity in several ways. In order to conduct local Advisory Board meetings it was common practice to split the board by geographical area. Otherwise, time spent at meetings by the busy members would have been greatly prolonged and excessive travel by the widely separated ranchers would have been necessary.
Early in 1942, the San Luis valley portion of District 3 became Colorado Grazing District 8. A district office was established at Alamosa, Colorado, with one range manager. The clerical work was handled by the Canon City office for several months until funds became available for a full-time clerk at Alamosa. A full advisory board was elected from the San Luis valley and the district became an entity of its own.
THE RIFLE GRAZING DISTRICT
The Rifle Grazing District was established by order of the Secretary of the Interior on October 12, 1940, and contained a total of 1,453,207 acres of public land subject to administration under the Taylor Grazing Act of June 28, 1934.
Division of Grazing personnel, with District advisory Board concurrence, submitted several names for the Grazing District. The name "Rifle" was chosen by the Director and his staff in recognition of the town of Rifle on the Colorado River in Garfield County for having been so closely identified with the early range livestock industry of Western Colorado. More rail shipments of livestock having been made from Rifle than any other shipping point along the route of the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad on the Western Slope in Colorado.
The Rifle Grazing District was formed from those parts of the Meeker Grazing District, Colorado No. 1 and Ouray Grazing District Colorado No. 3, located in the immediate or primary watershed of the Colorado River - plus a part of the Gunnison River watershed laying in Mesa County.
The Meeker and Ouray Grazing Districts were both established soon after passage by the Congress of the Taylor Grazing Act as noted elsewhere in this Narrative. Thus, all of the Rifle District had been under Administration within the Meeker and Ouray Districts for about five (5) years, prior to establishment of the Rifle District.
As early as 1935, it became apparent to many range users and the Division of Grazing personnel alike that the Meeker and Ouray Districts were much too large for the most effective, efficient and economic administration. Many of the Federal range users ranch operations were as much as 100 to 200 miles from the District Grazing Offices at Meeker and Montrose. Likewise grazing office personnel incurred excessive travel to arrive on the "ground" for individual and group meetings with the livestock operators on the range. Then; as is also true today this "on the ground-grass-roots" acquaintance with the range user and his problems and needs was recognized of prime importance. One other factor of importance favoring creation of the Rifle District was the location of the original boundary between Meeker and Ouray Districts, which followed the main stream bed of the Colorado River.
This division along the stream bed of the River split the watershed in two, at the same time dividing or spitting "the Community of Interest" in many neighborhoods along the River Base properties were cut in two and also range use which bordered the base properties and private lands - in some cases resulting in the operator having part of his grazing privilege licensed from the Meeker Office and part from the Montrose Office with increased costs in administration and a more complex administration for all concerned. This stream bed division also worked against the "watershed concept" for management and conservation of the public lands.
The District Advisory Boards of Meeker and Ouray Districts were requested to offer resolutions and vote on creating the Rifle District. The Ouray Board in a board meeting of September 25, 1939, offered a resolution and voted unanimously for creation of the new district. The Meeker Board voted against creation of the District. However, this objection by District #1 was not sustained by the Director and Regional Grazier, and the District was ordered set up as noted earlier in this Narrative and as finally approved the Rifle District encompassed the watershed of the Colorado River from the Colorado-Utah State line up stream meeting the Colorado District #2 boundary in Eagle County and National Forest boundaries in the upper reaches of the watershed and that small portion of the watershed of the Gunnison River within Mesa County, all within the Western Slope of Colorado.
In this report of the Rifle District - the Historical highlights, important events, personnel involved, affect and impact. of the State Rees - Old Land Act and organization, operation, important problems, etc., of the Colorado Grazing Districts are not included as they all have been adequately treated in the Narrative for other Colorado Districts.
The land pattern of the District can be classified as complex, with most of the choice lands in private ownership, this privately held land also controlling much of the available water for the use of adjacent federal range The only exception to this complexity is the Grazing Units of semi-arid land immediately adjacent to the City of Grand Junction on the North side of the Colorado River from Mt. Garfield and Palisade to the State line and the Kannah Creek - Whitewater Unit South of the river between Grand Mesa and the Gunnison River.
One other land pattern problem for the District was the large oil shale holdings of private land, held under the U.S Mining Laws. Many of these claims held for years by doing the required annual assessment work without bringing the claims to patent but having control and jurisdiction of the surface rights and leasing these large acreages to anyone the Oil Shale Interests cared to lease to. Changes in leases from year to year to various livestock operators did not contribute to stabilization of the livestock industry - stabilization being one of the expressed purposes of the Taylor Grazing Act. The oilshale lease pattern resulted in many problems to obtain a stable management and proper conservation of intermixed and adjacent public domain land. One other problem of lesser magnitude was the administration and management of the Naval Oilshale Reserve Unit; a block of rich oilshale bearing ores in the Bookcliff Range of mountainous land between Rifle and Grand Valley North of the Colorado River. However, on the whole, good cooperation always existed between the Navy Brass and Grazing Service which was helpful in ironing out grazing problems in that area.
Topography of the District can be generally expressed as rolling to rough - with roughness claiming the Lions share. Range land for all seasons of use are found in the District from the Desert units adapted to Winter use to Spring and Fall ranges in the foothill areas, lying generally in a border pattern between private ownership lands along the Rivers and Streams to the Forest boundaries; with considerable good to excellent Summer range in the Bookcliff range of mountains from the summit-divide of that range Southward - merging with Spring-Fall types of the foothills. The Federal range in the District varies in elevation between about 5 ,000 feet on the Desert Units to some Summer areas reaching an elevation of approximately 10,000 feet.
Most of the work incident to setting up a Grazing District was accomplished in this District by the former administration of Ouray and Meeker Districts in the five (5) years prior to setting this area up as the Rifle District.
Those range users eligible for Federal use, their respective qualifications as to Nos., Season of Use and Class of Livestock had been determined. Also, individual and common use allotments of available public range had been made and agreed to with most of the agreements reduced to writing and signed by the operators and approved by the Advisory Boards and the Range Manager or District Grazier as he was then called.
A great deal of range improvements and soil conservation work had been done by the D-G #2 CCC Camp at Grand Junction which maintained an enrollment of approximately 200 boys during the CCC program. Constructing range improvements on the public lands generally within a radius of 25 to 30 miles from Grand Junction, this program paid good dividends. First,the training and schooling of the young men turned out good citizenship, leadership and qualified work training that enabled these young men to get good jobs in private industry in the skilled trades they learned in camp. Second, in 1935, most of the public land under Taylor Grazing Act Administration was in poor condition from uncontrolled grazing. Showing evidence of over-use with forage production greatly reduced, this in turn allowing severe destructive erosion and loss of the top soil.
The CCC did a lot to begin stabilizing these conditions and problems. Some of the range improvement and conservation projects they completed are still in use and "paying-off" so to speak alter some 35 years. All of the CCC Camps performed excellent work in the control of range fires saving many thousands of acres of trees and browse and grass land from damage by fires.
Very soon after establishment of the District an Advisory Board election was held. Four sheepmen and four cattlemen were elected and the first Advisory Board meeting was held at the District Office in Grand Junction on March 3 through March 6, 1941, with all the Board members present as follows:
The Board elected Mr. Wilcoxson as Chairman, Herbert Jolley as Vice-Chairman and Kenneth Young as Secretary.
The Grazing Service was represented by the following personnel:
Also present for portions of the meeting were:
This was an important meeting for D-7 as Director Rutledge had some time prior to this ordered the issuance of Term Permits to replace the temporary license, which had been used on an annual basis since passage of the T. G. Act. This proposed action by the Director had been given considerable publicity in the local and National press. The Federal Range Code had been adopted and stockmen and grazing service personnel alike were anxious to put the "Term-Permit" for grazing privileges into operation for all.