Grazing continued

Superintendent Amdor's principal concern was that the permit agree with other grazing practices in the area rather than agree with the precedent established at Whitman Mission. Amdor believed that Shelden's income and the cost of the special use permit were not related and should not be considered during negotiations: "One does not have anything to do with the other, they're all separate." [115]

Finally, the Sheldens' last special use permit was issued in 1983. The next year, in 1984, the park began implementing the Historic Property Leasing Program as directed by National Park Service Director Dickenson. [116] Under section 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U. S. C. 470 et seq) the National Park Service may lease historic properties and use the proceeds to maintain and preserve those properties. [117] Convinced that the south pasture was overgrazed, Superintendent Amdor exercised his right under the permit to have the pasture evaluated; he then placed it under the Historic Property Leasing Program. Neither Shelden's previously undisputed claim to graze the pasture nor his contention that the land was not overgrazed influenced Amdor. As a result, grazing bids were accepted in 1984, with David Corbett receiving the award. The park realized approximately $2,400.00 from this venture for the revegetation program recommended by the Oregon State University, Cooperative Park Study Program. [118] Thus, the park withdrew the 29 acres from the historic leasing program in 1986, and began revegetating. Acting Regional Director Briggle explained that the goal of the project

is to create a stable and historically appropriate vegetation covering . . . . The [Cooperative Park Study Unit] recommends that the new vegetation be firmly established before we allow animals on the land again. Thus we anticipate that the property will not be ready for a new lease until fiscal year 1989. [119]

The Sheldens, then, will not have another opportunity to graze cattle on the park's south pasture until 1988.

After examining 47 years of the grazing issue, clearly, the manner in which the Sheldens were treated and the provisions outlined in each permit depended upon each superintendent. Mr. Shelden agrees: "I assume each superintendent has the same job, job title, job description, but they can certainly handle it differently from each other." [120]

The Sheldens have dealt with seven superintendents, all with different personalities. "It's no different from any other neighbor as far as the varying personalities," says Neil Shelden. [121] Some chose to recognize the Sheldens' claims as valid, others did not. Custodian Garth and Superintendents Weldon and Stickler felt that Ray Shelden's relationship with the park warranted a lenient attitude toward the formal grazing requirements. Their attitudes were based on, and resulted in, a gentlemen's agreement rather than National Park Service policy. While this method of managing the south pasture ensured their cooperation, it resulted in a delicate management and public relations situation for Superintendents Kowalkowski and Amdor when they discovered the Sheldens had taken liberties with the special use permit. Not only did Superintendent Amdor monitor the grazing practices more carefully, he took a different management approach than his predecessors and dealt with the Sheldens in a strict business-like manner. Although Amdor tightened up on policy, he tended to blame the Sheldens for taking advantage of the superintendents when, in fact, the superintendents initiated the flexible grazing policy in order to benefit both the park and the Sheldens. Although strained neighbor relations were perhaps inevitable when Superintendent Amdor required full market value for the south pasture, in retrospect Shelden believes that "they have always given us a good price on the pasture." [122]

While the quality of relationship has, in the past, depended primarily on the superintendent, Shelden feels that there has been good long-term cooperation: "Over the forty years, with five superintendents, certainly the high majority were, I believe, favorable. I hope and assume that it was indeed mutual . . ." [123]

No doubt Superintendent Herrera's attitude will shape the next chapter in this park-neighbor relationship. Another issue that will very likely affect neighbor relations to a much greater extent is water rights.


Last updated: March 1, 2015

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