Dr. Steven G. Herman
Dutch Henry Falls, Moses Coulee, Washington
Profession or Area of Expertise
Educator and Naturalist
I was introduced to abusive grazing in eastern California, on Inyo
National Forest south of Mono Lake, forty years ago. My response almost
got me fired from my job as a technician for the University of
California Department of Biological Control. I continued to register my
outrage in various venues, but intensified my efforts when I met Denzel
Ferguson in the early '70's. We were especially vigorous in our pursuit
of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and may have precipitated some minor
modifications there. I began teaching on Hart Mountain National Antelope
Refuge in 1976 I have been a Member of the Faculty at The Evergreen
State College since it opened in 1971; I teach Natural History).
I began pestering the Refuge personnel at Hart Mt. only minutes after
I arrived that year. Denzel contributed his share as well. Little
changed until a prescribed fire got away from the Service in August of
1985. The following spring they excluded cattle from the little
aspen-filled draw where I teach my summer bird banding course. The
effect was immediate; the most immediate result was that the aspens
began reproducing, i.e., the suckers were no longer cropped every year.
Before long the aspens were growing like grass under the then dying old
growth trees. The south-facing slope above camp grew back to cheatgrass,
but now -18 years after the fire- native grasses, forbs, and shrubs have
come back on that slope to the extent of about 75%. Sage Grouse are
virtually abundant (some of the lek numbers have more than doubled) and
there are more Pronghorns there than have ever been counted.
But I digress... By the time a very courageous and effective Refuge
Manager arrived, the aspens in Robinson Draw were legion. So when Barry
Reiswig began the process of moving cows off the entire Refuge, our
little draw was a showplace that demonstrated the effects of bovine
removal on aspen reproduction and all of the related phenomena.
Reiswig's achievements were huge, and the cows came off in 1993.
In Washington I have focused mostly on the grazing programs of the
Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Natural Resources, and I've made
little headway. Fish & Wildlife grazed the last Pygmy Rabbit site to
near destruction, insisting until the emergency listing that cows and
Pygmy Rabbits are "compatable". Then and only then did the
cows come off. And as usual, they covered their favors to the single
permittee with a made-up "research program". They are
shameless and voracious, but the state Department of Natural Resources
is worse. And (possibly because BLM has little acreage in Washington) I
don't have many colleagues here to join forces with.
In the spring of 2003 I taught a program called "The Natural
History and Conservation of Shrubsteppe", which allowed me to
introduce 10 students to the catastrophe, and to spend much time in the
field, some of that in some beautiful shrubsteppe.
My admiration for Jon Marvel and what he and his colleagues have done
is boundless. Jon has done more in five years than was done in the
previous thirty. Larry Walker and George Wuerthener are a couple of