New Colville National Forest plan will end grazing

Regulations prohibitive for ranchers

A new plan for the Colville National Forest that will set policy for at least the next 10-15 years has layers of regulations that will force ranchers off the 1.1 million acres of public land, according to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.
The Colville National Forest Plan Draft, released in late February, puts forth requirements for the 58 grazing allotments that will be impossible for ranchers to meet, according to SCCA. The association notes that the plan is full of arbitrary rules that will make it difficult, if not considerably confusing, for ranchers to manage their grazing allotments per USFS requirements.
In regards to grazing, the draft CNF forest plan prevents ranchers from having water developments or salting near “endangered or sensitive plant species” areas, requires grazing managers to “maintain conditions for snowshoe hairs in lynx habitat areas”, requires ranchers to “prevent livestock access to fish redds” and a number of unrealistic standards for riparian areas.
“Our members strive to be good and conscientious stewards of these grazing lands that they use on a seasonal basis. The expectations in the forest plan are not only unnecessary, but they are unrealistic and taken altogether will mean the end of grazing on the Colville National Forest,” said SCCA President Justin Hedrick.
In addition, grazing will not be possible on the over 69,000 acres of proposed Wilderness in the plan. Since Wilderness requires “little evidence of human developments” like stock tanks, corrals or fences and prohibits motorized vehicles like trucks or chainsaws, modern cattle management would be impossible.
The current CNF plan that would kill grazing by rules and regulations would be a serious blow to the local community. SCCA notes that public land grazing is not only a beneficial practice in its ability to reduce fuel loads for wildfires, but it is also a necessary part of the local economy.
“In the CNF plan, it recognizes that over 690,000 acres are suitable for cattle grazing and the 58 allotments in use now create 98 jobs and generates $1.5 million into the local economy each year,” said Hedrick. “That means cattle ranching is right behind timber extraction in its contribution to local jobs. “
Hedrick said SCCA will be asking CNF planners to revisit the grazing section and make some key changes.
“We do not need a plan that creates unobtainable standards like having 6 to 8 inches of stubble height in a riparian area,” said Hedrick. “We need a plan that has guidelines that reflect the consistent effort ranchers make to keep their allotments in good condition and gives them the latitude to work with USFS range managers for the best possible care of the land.”
For more information on the CNF plan draft and how it impacts grazing, visit

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SCCA calls for support of Hammond Ranch in Oregon

**************************PRESS RELEASE***************************************

January 11, 2016
Asks public to sign petition to repeal additional jail sentence

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association is urging people to sign a petition asking President Obama to pardon two Oregon ranchers who were re-sentenced to five years in federal prison for accidentally burning federal land.
The petition at must gain 100,000 signatures by the end of January in order to be considered by President Obama. The petition currently has over 11,000 signatures.

Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond were recently re-sentenced to additional jail time in a federal prison after fires on their private land accidentally spread to Bureau of Land Management land near the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Dwight,73, and Steven Hammond, 46, had already served three month and one-year prison terms, respectively, as well as paying a fine to BLM. However, a federal prosecutor had them re-sentenced under the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that requires a mandatory 5 years in prison for anyone who “maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive,” any federal property.

“We believe that sending these ranchers to prison and treating them as terrorists when mismanagement of federal lands has caused countless acres to burn throughout the West is wrong,” said SCCA President Justin Hedrick. “We also don’t think that once someone has been tried and sentenced for any offense should be brought back for additional punishment.”

SCCA supports responsible management of all public lands and a multi-use approach that includes logging and grazing.

“When our public lands are well managed and the resources are responsibly used, everyone can benefit from the increased open space, the healthier tree stands and managed vegetation,” Hedrick said. “It’s just like we have been saying ‘log it, graze it or watch it burn’.”


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Oregon delists wolf, Washington should follow suit

guard dog

This guard dog was attacked by wolves from the Huckleberry Pack earlier this summer while trying to defend his band of sheep. WDFW did nothing to remove the wolves who caused this.

Cattlemen call for better management

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) has applauded a recent decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove the grey wolf from the Oregon Endangered Species list.
With constant wolf attacks in Eastern Washington and no sign of relief for ranch families, SCCA advocates that wolves should also be removed from the Washington State Endangered Species list, providing better management options.

In Washington State, wolves are still federally protected in two thirds of the state so for those who want wolves in Washington, SCCA noted that removing them from the state list would not necessarily be a game-changer.

“One of the things that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said when wolves started coming back into the state was the social tolerance of wolves from affected communities was critical to wolf recovery,” said SCCA President Justin Hedrick. “But what we are seeing is that as wolves cause more damage and hardship in Eastern Washington, WDFW is distancing themselves from making any decisions or sharing information about wolf killings. That’s not management.”

The status of the wolf in Oregon is much like the status of the wolf in Washington State, with the wolf still listed as federally endangered in two-thirds of the state and the state only managing the Eastern portion. If Washington State removed the wolf from the state ESA list, wolves would still have federal protections until they are delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, but Eastern Washington ranchers could experience some relief from the over-saturation of wolves.

Hedrick noted that since 2012 wolves have been attacking livestock operations in Eastern Washington, with severe activity in the summer months ranging from cattle attacks near the Canadian Border, cattle kills near the Colville Valley, in grazing areas near Chewelah and at a sheep operation near Springdale. In 2015, wolves from the Dirty Shirt pack killed cattle near Chewelah; the Huckleberry Pack mauled a guard dog near Hunters and the Smackout Pack killed a calf, despite years of non-lethal deterrents and “range riders.”

In response, WDFW hired an $850,000 consultant to work with the pro-wolf heavy Wolf Advisory Group and is trying to form an advisory group to decide which ranchers should receive compensation. WDFW has also stopped making any lethal management decisions, demurring to the Wolf Advisory Group to decide when wolves should be removed. Governor Inslee also recently killed a provision from the Fish and Wildlife Commission that would have allowed for more cougar tags to be issued in 14 areas of the state to help alleviate pressure from predators.

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Huckleberry Wolf Pack attacks guard dog near Hunters

Johnsey 1 Johnsey 2 Johnsey 3 Johnsey 4

August 13, 2015

Huckleberry wolf pack continues to haunt Hunters area rancher

Wolves attack, nearly kill guard dog on Aug. 12

The Huckleberry Wolf pack is continuing to haunt a cattle and sheep rancher in southern Stevens County, with the wolves attacking and nearly killing a guard dog on Aug. 12. Johnsey, Marama-Akbash guard dog, was protecting a small group of sheep on the Dashiell ranch near Hunters when he was attacked and mutilated by wolves. The attack is another blow to the Dashiells who were forced to leave their private grazing ground in 2014 after chronic wolf attacks killed over 33 sheep and left over 300 unaccounted for. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife removed one wolf from the Huckleberry wolf pack, but it did not stop the attacks. With the ranch losing animals on a daily basis, the Dashiells were forced to drive the over 1,800 head of sheep down from their forested grazing area to pastures where the ranch was forced to feed hay. In 2015, the ranch was unable to go back to their summer grazing due to ongoing wolf activity and is now feeding the majority of the sheep hay on pastures near the Tri-Cities. A small group of replacement ewes is still being kept at the Hunters ranch. Moving most of the sheep from the summer grazing pastures is costing the ranch over $10,000 a month in hay costs alone. Unable to absorb the high overhead, the Dashiells have put their sheep up for sale. By being forced out of Stevens County, the area is losing a business that grossed over $100,000 a year.
“This will be the fate of every ranch in Stevens County if we don’t change something right now,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick. “When offending wolves are not quickly removed, they will come back again and again to feed on and attack livestock and domestic animals.”
Hedrick noted that the challenges to his own ranch, the Diamond M, only stopped after most of Wedge Pack was removed in 2012.
Due to the unbreakable nature of the behavior of wolves that start killing livestock, multiple kills by the Dirty Shirt pack near Chewelah also this summer indicate that pack should be removed immediately, said Hedrick. So far, the pack has killed three adult cattle and one calf.
“We have asked WDFW to be specific about how many cattle have to be killed before removal action will be taken and by their own documents, four is the number,” said Hedrick. “So the time for removal of the Dirty Shirt pack is now.”

**Additional info:

Due to questions on more details about Johnsey and wolves at the Dashiell Ranch, here is some additional info we shared on our Facebook page:

Thank you to everyone who commented on our post about Johnsey, the guard dog who was attacked by wolves this week. Johnsey was only one of five guard dogs with this band of sheep. One thing we want to make very clear is that this ranch has tried every possible means to “deter” wolves from their ranch including traditional methods like rotational grazing, full time herders that camp with the sheep and guard dogs. This year they have also tried rag boxes, fox lights and range riders. No one can say this outfit hasn’t tried everything and they are not the kind of ranch to go down without a fight.
For those who advocate the rancher just start killing wolves, please keep in mind how difficult this is. Even when the state removes wolves, it has to be done by helicopter. Ground hunting is not effective. In the past (prior to helicopters), wolves could only be removed by trapping and poison.
However, if you have a wolf on your place harassing or killing your animals, you can try and do something about it, if you can catch them. Per state law, you are able to shoot up to one wolf without a special permit. Click the link below to see the rules for killing a wolf in Eastern Washington:

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SCCA concerned about recent wolf kills near Chewelah

wolf pack map

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association has expressed concern over recent cattle kills by wolves in the Chewelah Creek area of Stevens County and is hoping for quick resolve to the situation by state wildlife managers. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has confirmed that three adult cows and one calf were killed by wolves in the Dirty Shirt pack on or prior to July 10.

“As always when this happens we are concerned for the ranch family that now has to worry about keeping their animals safe from wolves in addition to their regular operations,” said SCCA Vice President Scott Nielsen. “We hope that WDFW takes deliberate, intelligent action in this situation that stops the damage from wolves immediately so the rancher is not burdened with continuing losses throughout the summer.”

Now in the third year of wolf depredations in Stevens County, wolves have attacked and killed livestock in all four corners of the county as of 2015. Wolves have killed cattle and sheep from the Canadian border near Laurier, to the south end of the county near Springdale as well as in the Colville Valley and Chewelah.

SCCA has also received recent reports of wolf activity in the Profanity Peak area in Ferry County. WDFW confirmed that the Profanity Peak pack killed one cow and injured another last season, with the affected ranch reporting a loss of 26 calves in 2014.Wolf packs in Eastern Washington total a minimum of 11, according to the last count by WDFW.

In all of these situations, SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA firmly advocates for lethal removal of wolves that kill and attack domestic animals.

“We know that wolf attacks on livestock can only be stopped by immediately removing the offending wolves before the behavior spreads to the whole pack,” said Hedrick. “We support addressing the situation as soon as possible.”

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SCCA offers reward for info on killed, maimed cattle

June 29, 2015

SCCA 2015 reward ad

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) recently ran ads in newspapers in Stevens and Ferry County offering a $2,500 reward for information that will help find who has been killing and maiming their cattle over the last two years. Ads were featured in both the Statesman-Examiner (Colville) and the Ferry County View (Republic) over the last two weeks.

Over 15 head of cattle belonging to various local ranches have been shot and left for dead in the last 18 months in Stevens and Ferry County. In nearly every instance, the animal was shot near a public roadway. In addition, another rancher had a cow hit by a vehicle and left to die. Tire marks leading to the carcass showed that the vehicle accelerated in order to hit the cow and that the incident was not accidental. Although the incidents have been reported to law enforcement, no one has been arrested or charge in connection with any of the killings.

SCCA President Justin Hedrick said some of the cattlemen are suspicious the senseless acts were in retaliation for the strong stance SCCA has taken on the wolf issue. SCCA has opposed the unchecked growth of wolves in Eastern Washington and called for greater controls as many SCCA members have suffered livestock losses to the predator.
“We don’t know why people are doing this exactly, but we have our suspicions,” he said. “Whatever the reason, injuring our cattle and leaving them for dead is a cowardly, cruel thing to do and we want those responsible to be found and convicted for their crime.”

SCCA is encouraging those with information to either call Hedrick directly or call the Stevens or Ferry County Sheriff’s offices. Information that leads to an arrest and conviction will be eligible for the $2,500 reward. One reward is being offered per conviction.

For more information about the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, visit

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SCCA launches “Public Land: Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn”

scca billboard artwork

June 15, 2015

Log It, Graze It, or Watch It Burn

Cattlemen release new billboard on forest plan revision

A new billboard on the southern end of Colville sponsored by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is advocating for a simple strategy for managing public land. The billboard says, “Public Land: Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn.”

The June 15 release of the billboard coincides with the anticipated release of new documents for public comment from the Colville National Forest (CNF) on their Forest Plan Revision.

Colville National Forest officials are in the process of creating a new management plan for the 1.1 million acres the forest encompasses. The current forest plan was crafted in 1988 and is at the end of its 15 year life span.

However, the Proposed Action plan that came out for the Colville National Forest in 2011 not only significantly decreased the number of board feet of lumber that could be removed from the forest (a decline from the 80 million   board feet in the 1988 plan to 25-35 million board feet in the 2011 plan) but it also proposed 87,500 acres of wilderness that would  include portions of the Abercrombie, Hooknose, Bald Snow, Profanity, and Hoodoo areas.

Wilderness designations in those areas are wrong-headed for several reasons, according to SCCA, including their lack of “primeval character” as defined in the 1964 National Wilderness Preservation System. That federal designation recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” and  “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions .”

Most of the areas recommended for wilderness designation in the proposed area have been logged, grazed and otherwise improved by man, according to SCCA.

“These areas are not untouched spots and they plan a vital role in the local community by providing renewable resources,” said SCCA Vice President Scott Nielsen. “To remove any motorized items and abandon these places will create not only economic hardship for the loggers and ranchers but create situations where the overall health of the forest degrades because it cannot be managed through logging or grazing.”

SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA supports the conscientious and respectful use of natural resources on National Forests for the betterment of communities and the health of the forest.

“Reducing management of the forest by shutting down logging and grazing will only create fire-ready forests, increased bug and beetle kill of tree stands,” said Hedrick. “We can’t let that happen here and watch our forest go to ruin and our communities suffer.”

The Colville National Forest plans to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Forest Plan Revision this summer on possible action alternatives for the plan. The draft will be available for public comment.

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Ranchers, wildlife groups denounce lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services

March 9, 2015

A recent announcement by five radical environmental groups that they are suing USDA Wildlife Services regarding wolf removal in Washington is gaining strong condemnation from agriculture groups and wildlife conservationists who argue the suit is frivolous and hampers responsible management of wolves.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Cattle Producers of Washington, Spokane County Cattlemen and Washington Residents Against Wolves said the lawsuit that challenges USDA Wildlife Services’ authority to kill wolves in Washington is dismissive of the real challenges of a growing wolf population.

“The organizations behind this suit are taking a clear and public stance that they do not care about the cost to ranch families, rural communities or prey populations like deer, elk and moose that suffer when wolf populations are not kept in check,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick. “It’s easy to sit in your cubicle somewhere and criticize the on-the-ground challenges when it isn’t your family or your livelihood at risk.”

The lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services was filed on March 3 by Cascadia Wildlands, The Lands Council, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians.

The groups assert that although the USDA has already completed an Environmental Assessment(EA) on the impact of removing wolves in Washington, their lawsuit claims that there is not enough data in the EA to support wolf removal and calls the agency “reckless” for removing a problem wolf in the Huckleberry pack in the summer of 2014. The groups also take issue with USDA Wildlife Services advising the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on the removal of the Wedge pack in 2012.

“It is ironic that these groups are taking issue with removing problem wolves after the ranches involved had already exhausted non-lethal methods and allowed state and agency personnel to intervene on their private property,” said Hedrick. “These ranches did all they could to try to stop the killing of their animals but once wolves started after livestock, there was no way to stop it. There was no other option but lethal removal.”

A press release from the environmental groups regarding their lawsuit against USDA also claims that wolves in Washington are “far from recovered.”

Washington Residents Against Wolves Spokesman Luke Hedquist takes exception to the claim and notes that wolves are well established not only in Washington, but in neighboring states and throughout North America.

“There are over 65,000 wolves in North America, 670 wolves in Idaho, 650 wolves in Montana and over 300 wolves in Wyoming. Wolves have been removed from the Endangered Species List in all three of these states and the states allow for hunting just to try and keep the wolf populations in check,” Hedquist said. “In Washington, we are experiencing a high concentration of wolves in Eastern Washington that are creating dangerous situations for livestock owners, pet owners and hunters with likely more than 100 wolves in the area. By saying that USDA should not be able to remove wolves, these groups are advocating that public safety, other wildlife species, communities and economies should not be taken into consideration when managing wolves. This suit is essentially calling for non-management.”

The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council (INWC), a sportsman’s group with over 500 members and families, said it is seriously concerned about how the lawsuit seeks to run a strictly pro-wolf agenda without taking into consideration the complexity of the issue.

“When you sue to remove a tool from the toolbox, in this case the ability for USDA Wildlife Services to aid in removal of problem wolves by tying it up with red tape, it means these litigants are not considering the impact of an unchecked wolf population,” said INWC President Leonard Wolf. “Hunters and recreationalists in other states know that part of wolf management is sometimes wolf removal. Ignoring that fact means you will have severe declines in prey population as they experienced in Yellowstone when the number of Elk dropped from 19,000 to under 4,000 due to wolf depredations.”

“We need good, responsible management of wolves in Washington that considers all the available options so we don’t create situations that harm communities or wildlife,” Wolf added.

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Justin Hedrick named SCCA President for 2015


Justin Hedrick, a long-time member of SCCA and co-owner of the Diamond M Ranch, was recently elected as President of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association for 2015. The Diamond M ranch has been at the forefront of the wolf issue for the last several years and has worked diligently with SCCA to see improvement in wolf management. Hedrick is also an active member in Cattle Producers of Washington and a member of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. Hedrick traveled to Washington D.C. last summer with USCA to lobby Washington Congressmen on the issues of Country of Origin Labeling, reopening horse processing facilities and federal land use.


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2015 SCCA Banquet coming up Feb. 7

IMG_0459The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association annual banquet is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Community College building in Colville. Social hour starts at 5pm, Prime Rib dinner at 6pm, live and silent auction, games. Tickets are $30–available at North 40 Outfitters and Colville and Kettle Falls Country Stores. Be sure to join us!

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