Added 30 January 1997
Majority rules. A simple concept really. At least in a direct democracy. It is not nearly so simple as that in the current political system of the United States. If it were, perhaps there would be no ranchers on public lands at all. This page is here despite my belief that ranchers do have a place in the West. This page is here to counter an oft stated complaint of pro-cattle people. That complaint is about how a few elitist yuppie environmentalists in (insert name of metropolis here) are destroying the livelihood of ranchers and trying to run ranchers' lives.
Baloney. At one time, I was a member of the National Wildlife Federation, the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the Sea Shepherds. All at the same time. I was 14 years old. I spent my meager allowance to give those organizations money. I gave them my money because it was what I believed in, it was what I thought was right. Most people don't join such organizations just for the hell of it. They join those organizations because of their values. And as I write this, tax time is approaching. I just received all of my W-2 forms. Do you know what my gross income was last year? $12,460.72. That is the largest annual income I have ever gotten (by $4500!). Granted, I did grow up in Phoenix, but I hardly think I can be categorized as a "yuppie elitist". (Now that I am older, I am no longer a member of the aforementioned organizations, but I certainly sympathize with them on a large array of issues.)
Now take that argument onto a different level. Just because pro-cattle folks only see or hear a few people talking about "the waste of the West", doesn't mean there are only a few people who believe those words. There are 5 million members of the National Wildlife Federation. The Sierra Club has 690,000 members. The Nature Conservancy has 550,000 members. The Wilderness Society has 390,000 members. All told, these four environmental organizations have 6.63 million members. And that is just four organizations out of many. Compare that to the 23,000 federal grazing permitees. Add in the rest of the people making a living from cattle, or who are even just "pro-cattle", and you are still going to fall far short of the number of people who consider themselves to be environmentalists.
Majority rules? It's a good thing for public lands ranchers that majority doesn't rule. Perhaps it is time for everyone (environmentalists and ranchers) to grow up and solve the real problem.