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Idaho’s Copper Basin Needs Our Help

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Copper Basin and the Big Lost River Watershed of Idaho is an area incredible beauty, great recreational opportunities, and important ecosystems. Just outside of Sun Valley, the Copper Basin has tremendous potential for restoration if it were protected from the abuses of livestock grazing and the associated “predator management,” a.k.a. wolf killing, currently underway in the area.

Last week, Western Watersheds Project toured the Copper Basin allotments, checking on range management and monitoring ecological conditions. The observations were not pretty (slideshow at link), far too many cow-bombed meadows, hummocks in wet soils, trashed riparian areas, and eroding streambanks. Downed fences had allowed livestock into protected areas, and water quality was foul. Because these grazing allotments are leased at far below cost, these impacts are essentially paid for by the American public!

Add into the livestock-caused mess that our tax dollars are being spent on a government trapper set on killing wolves in Copper Basin (more here), and we’ve got a lose-lose proposition on our hands. Wolves’ ecological role is to eat herbivores and prevent the kinds of damage these cows are causing, but instead they are lethally punished for taking easy prey that are otherwise displacing native ungulates on the same landscape.

Western Watersheds Project is committed to the protection and restoration of the Copper Basin and Big Lost River watershed through our efforts to watchdog federal compliance with federal law. WWP is also seeking to permanently retire four of the biggest grazing allotments in the Copper Basin in order to create a cattle-free landscape of nearly 400,000 acres.

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