About

I was a founding member of the Arizona Grazing Clearinghouse, which was formed in the early 1990s by a group of Arizona environmental activists interested in promoting public lands grazing reform. It included individuals and some representatives from local conservation groups, but had no official organization or membership criteria. We met periodically to brainstorm at the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club’s old headquarters building in downtown Phoenix.

Our activities included submitting comments in response to livestock management proposals issued by local public land managers, and writing editorials and articles for newspapers, periodicals, and conservation group newsletters. Sometimes we also organized field trips and hosted public workshops. Our members also served on local advisory panels. In fact, in 1998 I was appointed to the local Rangeland Resource Team (RRT) subcommittee of the Arizona BLM’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC).

We started to drift apart in the late 1990s, as most groups do, and we eventually quit having in-person meetings. Then in April 2013 ASU Law Professor Joe Feller, one of the group’s primary and founding members, died after being hit by a car while jogging. I resolved to resurrect the spirit of the Arizona Grazing Clearinghouse while attending his memorial service. Joe isn’t the only one from the group that’s gone. Mike Seidman passed away in 2002, and Frank Welsh in 2017. Attorney Gil Venable succumbed to a long and debilitating illness in 2019. There may be others.

If any of them are watching from the great beyond, I hope they approve of this website. – Jeff Burgess

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5 Comments

  1. Hey Jeff, I am a teacher and regularly trying to tie in lessons on grazing impact, particularly when discussing water issues. Saw your ad in HCN and would love to collaborate.

  2. Hello Jeff,
    A suggestion for all readers here. If we are ever to get cattle off of our public lands, we first need to educate the public. In the small towns close to Forest Service Lands (which are all grazed), the public has no idea how much damage is being done, how we subsidize the industry, how it hurts hunting, fishing, birdwatching, backpacking, water quality, watershed etc. Letters to the editor or small ads in the local paper exposing the true costs to us and the fact that it’s more of a hobby/lifestyle than money making business. A very small percent of public land ranchers have this as their sole source of income. Even with all of our subsidies, the arid west is not an economical place to try raising cattle. The public is slowly getting a better understanding, but there is a long way to go. Ads in small town papers can be fairly inexpensive (especially if you know one of the ad salespeople who supports our cause). Educating the public will make the Forest Service a little uneasy about continuing doing business as usual.

  3. Hi Jeff,
    Great website! I’m happy to see that you are still keeping the fires burning!

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