Courtesy Stevens County Cattlemen
Stevens County ranchers are using billboards to raise awareness about public lands issues.
The Stevens County Cattlemen are advertising with a billboard on Highway 395 south of Colville, Wash. The billboard depicts the message “Public Lands: Log it, graze it or watch it burn.” A billboard featuring the message “Wilderness: public land of no use — no logging, chainsaws, grazing, mining, bikes, wheelchairs and ATVs,” was located on the highway in Arden, Wash., earlier this year.
The group first used the billboards in 2015.
“Much of the policy being set for public lands emphasizes conservation and recreation, but shuns good management like grazing and logging,” said Jamie Henneman, spokesperson for the group. “The best management uses holistic tools like grazing and timber harvest to keep wildfire fuel loads down in the forests.”
The county wants to see public lands be sustainable and healthy for the benefit of all, Henneman said.
“Some of the best recreational benefits — clear trails, healthy stands of trees, reduced brush and vegetation — are because of cows and loggers,” she said. “It may not be politically correct to say right now, but these methods work.”
The organization is also working with public land management agencies, such as the Colville National Forest, to promote a balanced approach.
Henneman said the group is concerned that the proposed management plan for the forest does not promote healthy management, and will harm local communities by shutting down grazing and logging.
“(Folks) need to stand up and be engaged if they want ranching and logging to continue in Eastern Washington,” Henneman said.
Henneman said the group’s “Watch It Burn” graphic on Facebook has been viewed by more than 84,000 people. A California farm bureau group picked up the slogan and is starting a T-shirt campaign. The Stevens County group received requests for further information from ranchers in Oregon and California.