Yavapai Cattle Growers Association hosts Congressman Paul Gosar, Congressman Eli Crane And USFS Chief Randy Moore Meeting in Cottonwood
On September 7, 2023, the Yavapai Cattle Growers Association proudly hosted a meeting in Cottonwood having Congressman Paul Gosar, Congressman Eli Crane, and US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore from Washington DC in attendance to discuss grazing issues on the Prescott National Forest; and Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) issues both on the Prescott and Coconino National Forests.
Congressman Gosar stated that cattle grazing has always been and remains critical to the health of our forests and enhances our food security in raising beef cattle. Congressman Crane echoed the same comments and was looking forward to hearing the presentations and attending the Range Tour on the Verde Allotment (Groseta W Dart Ranch).
Chief Moore shared with the overflow crowd (130 + attendees) that he is here to listen and learn. He said grazing is still one of the most important tools in reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West. He said that “we are all in this together” and he was pleased to learn that the Collaborative Monitoring for Managing Livestock MOU was signed in July. He said that the Agency is looking forward to rebuilding trust and its relationships with Prescott National Forest Grazing Permittees.
Region 3 (Arizona and New Mexico) Forester Michiko Martin agreed with Chief Randy Moore’s comments and said that Region 3 and specifically the Prescott National Forest recently was awarded $60 M over the next five (5) years to reduce wildfire risk in the Prescott Basin and in other areas throughout the Forest. Forester Martin also shared with the audience that in Region 3 there are 1200 grazing permittees who have 1400 grazing allotments with 300,000 head of cattle grazing on Forest Service Lands in Arizona and New Mexico.
Andy Groseta, Grazing Permittee on the Prescott National Forest, “set the stage” and made some opening comments before a panel presentation. Mr. Groseta stated managed grazing is good and is necessary and required for healthy plant communities and ecosystems. He said that in June 2021, PNF Supervisor Dale Deiter sent a letter to all grazing permittees to adjust
(reduce numbers of cattle)grazing operations because of the drought. Mr. Groseta also stated that the Prescott National Forest created the Drought Management Decision Tool (DMDT) which was used as a tool along with other information to reduce cattle numbers on the Forest. Mr. Groseta said the PNF Supervisor Dale Deiter stated that the Forest reduced (cut) cattle numbers on the Forest 47% in 2021 and 45% in 2022, which resulted in thousands of head of cattle removed from PNF Grazing Allotments. In most cases the Agency did not have the required monitoring data to substantiate the cuts (reduced cattle numbers). Those cuts resulted in a severe adverse impact resulting in the loss of millions of dollars to the Beef Cattle Industry and the local communities in Yavapai County.
Yavapai Cattle Growers Association (YCGA) created a Forest Sub-Committee to meet with the Forest Service on a quarterly basis. The fruits of those efforts resulted in a Collaborative Monitoring for Managing Livestock Memo of Understanding being created and signed by several interested and key parties, including the Range Scientists at the University of Arizona, Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (AACD), Yavapai Cattle Growers Association (YCGA) Arizona Cattle Growers Association (ACGA) and the Prescott National Forest.
Presenters at the meeting who were key parties in developing the MOU were : Dr. George Ruyle, U of A School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Dr. Andrew Brischke, Mohave County Extension – Agriculture and Natural Resources; Kent Ellett, USFS Region 3 Range Management Specialist; and Jeff Eisenberg of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association. Mr. Eisenberg emphasized the importance of fully restocking the PNF grazing allotments ASAP, subject to range conditions utilizing the “stock and monitor” methodology. Additional presenters included Dr. Ethan Orr, U of A Assistant Director Cooperative Extension, who shared that the U of A is now in the process of hiring 3-4 new Range/ Beef Cattle Specialists in Northern Arizona to assist both the Ranchers (Grazing Permittees) and the Forest Service to collect monitoring data using the proper protocol as outlined in the Collaborative Monitoring for Managing Livestock MOU. Dr. Orr stated this was the result of the ACGA and YCGA efforts at the Arizona State Legislature (2022 Session) in getting $8M in funding for the U of A Cooperative Extension Service.
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, James Gregory, Chairman; Harry Oberg, Vice Chairman, and Donna Michaels, Member, made presentations stating that the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors authorized $100,000 in funding ($20,000 per year for five (5) years) to the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) to hire range management technicians to assist the Prescott National Forest Range Conservationists and the PNF Grazing Permittees to collect monitoring data and to assist in interpreting the data that is collected to make decisions regarding stocking rates. Dawn Salcito, AACD Program Manager and PNF Grazing Permittee, shared with the audience that they have already started working with ranchers and the Forest Service.
Chairman Gregory introduced David Rhodes, Yavapai County Sheriff, who said the Sheriff’s Department supports the ranchers and is the “first line of defense” when vandalism occurs on Federal, State, and private lands on our County’s ranches.
Vice Chairman Oberg stated that grazing and OHV issues matter and he supports the MOU. He said, “if it is a problem for cattlemen, it’s a problem for us”.
Supervisor Michaels stated that cattle are one of the 5 C’s in Arizona. She also said the “OHVs are decimating our rangelands on our ranches in Yavapai County”.
Dustin and Becki Ross, owners of the Windmill Mountain Ranch and Grazing Permittees on the Coconino National Forest, gave a power point presentation regarding the damage caused by All Terrain Vehicles and Off Highway Vehicles on their grazing allotments. They have done an excellent job in documenting the damage to the forest lands in the Sedona and Flagstaff areas. It was an eye-opening experience for Chief Moore and both Congressmen to see.
Lunch was provided by the Yavapai Cattle Growers Association, Yavapai County, and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. After lunch, Andy Groseta led a Range Tour on the Verde Grazing Allotment southeast of Cottonwood. Anthony Madrid, USFS Region 3 Deputy Director of Wildlife, Fish, Rare Plants and Rangeland Management made some opening remarks along with Todd Willard, PNF Verde District Ranger. Dr. Andrew Brischke (U of A) and Kent Ellett (USFS)provided a very educational background on the importance of setting goals and objectives before range monitoring occurs. They emphasized the importance of collecting data using the proper protocol and interpreting the data accurately and correctly. Both the Ranchers and the Agency need the range data to substantiate the stocking rate decisions that are made on each grazing allotment. Also, they emphasized that Ranchers and Forest Service should use the Stock and Monitor approach. Chuck Oliver, USFS Deputy Director Timber, Range Management and Vegetation Ecology from Washington DC made some closing comments emphasizing the importance of working together. Steve Hattenbach, USFS Region 3 Acting Deputy Regional Forester attended the meeting and Range Tour.
The meeting attracted many key elected officials including R-LD-1 Senator Ken Bennett, R-LD-1 Representatives Quang Nguyen, and Selina Bliss. Also, U of A Vice President and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Shane Burgess and Ed Martin, Director of U of A Cooperative Extension, attended the event along with Kathryn Stone, U of A Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment. In addition, Barry Goldwater, Jr., former California US House of Representatives (1969-1983) attended the meeting. In addition, Representatives from Arizona Department of Agriculture (Jerome Rosa, Animal Services Director, and Captain Terry Lincoln) attended. Yavapai County Administrator, Maury Thompson also attended. ACGA President, Mike Gannuscio, and ACGA 1st Vice President, Brian DeGanahl attended.
Ken Ligon, YCGA President said that the meeting and Range Tour was very productive and successful and that the YCGA wanted to thank Congressman Gosar, Congressman Crane, and USFS Chief Randy Moore for attending this event. President Ligon said “the importance of this September 7, 2023, meeting cannot be underestimated in its importance to the cattle ranchers in Yavapai County. Yavapai County Ranchers are looking forward to continuing working with the Forest Service to rebuild trust and to collect range monitoring data using the proper and correct protocol used in the decision-making process to stock grazing allotments on the Prescott National Forest.”
L to R: Tim Petersen, YCGA Vice President; Andy Groseta, Past YCGA President; Congressman
Eli Crane; USFS Chief Randy Moore, Washington, DC; Ken Ligon, YCGA President;
Congressman Paul Gosar
L to R: Harry Oberg, Vice Chairman, Yavapai County Board of Supervisors; David Rhodes, Yavapai County Sheriff; James Gregory, Chairman, Yavapai County Board of Supervisors
L to R: Andy Groseta, W Dart Ranch; Former US Representative from California Barry Goldwater Jr; Supervisor Donna Michaels, Yavapai County Board of Supervisors
L to R: USFS Chief Randy Moore; Dr. Ethan Orr, Associate Director, University of Arizona Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension
L to R: Gaither Martin, Arizona State Director, Congressman Eli Crane Staff; Congressman Eli Crane; Larry Parker, Past YCGA President
Dustin Ross, Windmill Mountain Ranch and other Range Tour Participants – Verde Grazing Allotment, Prescott National Forest
Range Tour Presenters – Andy Groseta, Andrew Brischke, University of Arizona; Kent Ellett, USFS – Region 3 on the Verde Grazing Allotment, Prescott National Forest
L to R: Chris Lowman, Rugged Lands Consulting; AZ House of Representatives Selina Bliss (R-LD-1); AZ State Senator Ken Bennett (R-LD-1)
L to R: Andrew Brischke, University of Arizona Mohave County Extension; Kent Ellett, USFS Region 3 Range Management Specialist (with microphone); Todd Willard, Verde District Ranger, Prescott National Forest; Anthony Madrid, Region 3 Deputy Director Wildlife, Fish, Rare Plants and Rangeland Management.
L to R: Andy Groseta, W Dart Ranch, Cottonwood; Mitchell Lonas, Ranch Manager, Lazy Lo Ranch, Mayer; Clay Moore. Ranch Manager, T Anchor Ranch, Dugas-Mayer
L to R: Gaither Martin, Arizona Field Director for Congressman Eli Crane; Congressman Eli Crane
L to R: Andy Groseta, W Dart Ranch, PNF Grazing Permittee, Cottonwood; Alan and Diana Kessler, Flying M Ranch, Grazing Permittee, Coconino National Forest Flagstaff
L to R: Claudette Haverfield, Board Supervisor – Triangle Natural Resource Conservation District. Seven Spear Ranch, PNF Grazing Permittee – Skull Valley; Diana Kessler, Flying M Ranch – Grazing Permittee Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff
L to R: Sarah James, AACD Range Management Specialist; Dawn Salcito, AACD Program Manager/PNF Grazing Permittee – Skull Valley; Becki Ross, Windmill Mountain Ranch, Coconino NF Grazing Permittee– Sedona/Cottonwood/Flagstaff
L to R: Ken Ligon, Yavapai Cattle Growers Association President; Fred Ruskin, Yavapai Ranch – PNF Grazing Permittee, Seligman
L to R: Shane Burgess, University of Arizona Vice President and Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Andy Groseta, W Dart Ranch
L to R: Matt Halldorson, University of Arizona Yavapai County Extension Agent; Harry Oberg, Vice Chair, Yavapai County Board of Supervisors
L to R: Dustin and Becki Ross, Windmill Mountain Ranch – Grazing Permittee, Coconino National Forest presentation regarding Off Highway Vehicle issues and the adverse impacts to Forest Grazing Allotments
L to R: Gretchen Groseta; Mary Beth Groseta; Andy Groseta; Paul Groseta
“5th Generation Rancher”