During these Dog Days of Summer, I’ve been reading the Forest History Society’s interview of former Chief F. Dale Robertson. Dale was chief during the height of the spotted owl crisis, 1987-1993. The first region-wide injunction barring owl habitat logging issued in 1989, marking the beginning of the battle, with the Northwest Forest Plan ending the fight in 1994. All of the interview is worth skimming. I was struck with Dale’s recounting of his early days implementing the Taylor Grazing Act in Oklahoma where Dale was told to rein in ranchers who for generations had exercised unregulated, free access to federal forage:
This one guy, Joe Herbert, he was a tough nut. He was mean. He was defying us and he had his cattle out, so we had the U.S. marshals come and they arrested him, took him up to Muskogee to the U.S. Magistrate, and while he was in Muskogee we rounded up his cattle. There was even a shootout. Well, we had his cattle impounded. This was my predecessor, and he came up and shot the lock off the gate and let his cattle out. But anyway, it was tough.
We could use more Dale Robertsons to deal with today’s Cliven Bundys.