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This page last updated February 08, 2009

Dr. Steven G. Herman

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Address: Washington
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  Dutch Henry Falls, Moses Coulee, Washington

 

  Joseph Creek Wildlife Area, Pintler Creek Unit, WaDFW

Profession or Area of Expertise

Educator and Naturalist

Personal Statement

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 other idols.

Steve Herman

 

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