grazing2

 

Grazing continued

Under the next administration, the Sheldon grazing issue became clouded because of staff error and second thoughts. In 1974, Superintendent Kowalkowski reexamined the special use permit he issued in 1972; his conclusions were very different from his predecessor. Based upon appraisals by the Washington State Cattlemen Association, the permittee, now Neil Shelden, owed $73.50 per year rather than $25.00. Current costs for grazing land stood at $5.00 per animal unit month making the Sheldens' fee $600.00; however, deducting maintenance costs resulted in the $73.50 figure. [106] Although Shelden agreed to the new price, new staff members failed to collect this revised fee and also failed to renew his permit. The entire situation was reviewed again, in 1978, and a new appraisal made by Reid Malin, Associate Appraiser from the Office of Quarters, Permits, and Utilities. Superintendent Kowalkowski agreed with the assessment that Shelden be held responsible for the previous three years and pay $73.50 for each year. [107] In addition, Malin advised Mr. Shelden that he could pasture more cattle but it would cost an additional $5.00 per animal unit month. Shelden agreed to the new stipulations although he implied that the new fee would be a hardship. [108] As a result, a special use permit was drawn up in 1980 for $294.00, Shelden's debt from 1977-1980. [109]

Clearly, it was Superintendent Kowalkowski's opinion that charging Shelden the "going rate" for his cattle was proper and fair regardless of the size of his farm or the cost of pasturing. Unlike Superintendent Stickler, he based his decision on policy and not on personal loyalty to the Sheldens.

Following Kowalkowski's lead, Superintendent Amdor took an even stricter approach toward the grazing issue. Utilizing both perogative and policy, Amdor chose to ignore Shelden's claims about financial difficulty and helping the park, and negotiate instead on the basis of National Park Service policy alone. As Shelden surely recognized, Superintendent Amdor deviated from the opinions and actions of past superintendents and followed his own course.

In light of the fee-collection oversight from 1976-1980, Amdor took an aggressive stance in negotiations with Shelden. In fact, one of the park goals for fiscal year 1981 was to "maintain a proactive rather than reactive stand [with neighbors] on areas of mutual concern." [110] Therefore, Amdor quickly informed Shelden that another price change was likely: "the National Park Service will be evaluating the price element . . . ensure that an adequate sum is being charged per animal units of grazing." [111] Accordingly, he and Shelden negotiated the 1980 permit, the price of which was based on the land value rather than the number of cattle. This change was Shelden's suggestion:

I suggest we deviate from the norm and consider the pasture an individual land parcel--complete in itself. This approach would eliminate head count, simplify record keeping and free Park personnel for more productive work. [112]

This new permit also allowed Shelden to graze more cattle without the additional $5.00 per animal unit month and allowed him greater flexibility to rotate his cattle between the park's south pasture and his own. The resulting permit was valued eight percent of the tax assessed value of 28 acres, less any and all allowable amenities such as weed control and maintenance. [113] Again, Shelden agreed to the permit but maintained that the new price, $148.00 was too high. While Amdor acknowledged his concern, he remained firm that since the new fee was based on fair market value it would not place Shelden under undue hardship: "We are sorry that the permit costs for you have doubled, however we feel . . . our efforts to establish a fair and equitable method for determining the permit value were successful." [114]

 

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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