Logo by John Adams, April 2010


Land Issues - Range Cattle

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 Range Cattle Problems

 The following information is a verbatim transcript provided by the Methow Valley Ranger District, 24 West Chewuch Road , Winthrop , 98862 509-996-2266


May and June is the time of year when permitted livestock are being placed on to National Forest. The livestock grazing permittees do their required fence maintenance at this time. In years past there has been considerable confusion on the part of the private landowner about fence construction and maintenance responsibilities and we would like to offer the following guidance.

Okanogan County has a checkerboard of public lands and more and more people are living next to National Forest. Fencing issues are getting more complex as larger parcels are being divided. More people are less connected with livestock and agriculture, and landowners may not want to fence because it is expensive and they do not feel that they should have to keep other people’s livestock off their property.

Livestock owners are responsible for keeping their grazing stock off the National Forest (unless they have the appropriate permits) and all private landowners are responsible for keeping any unwanted livestock off their property. The cost of construction and maintaining private property fences along National Forest boundary is incurred by the private landowner.

Washington State has an Open Range policy which is under the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff . Open Range is open to all livestock including those permitted on National Forest. See Title 16, Animals and Livestock, of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) for specific state law pertaining to fencing.

The Forest Service is not required to fence its boundaries to protect them against unauthorized livestock or to fence its boundaries to control the livestock permitted to graze on the National Forest. The Forest Service also has no obligation to maintain any existing boundary fence.

The forest boundary is often not fenced, but may be marked with yellow or red boundary signs. These markers are placed directly over the surveyed boundary and read “National Forest Beyond This Sign.” If the boundary of your land has not been identified, it is advisable to have the boundary surveyed and marked by a licensed land surveyor. Where private lands have a common boundary with the National Forest System lands, the landowner may cooperate with the Forest Service in a survey of this boundary. This will assure that the boundary is accurately located and marked and prevent the cost of relocating a fence or building.

It is helpful to inform the livestock operator and the Forest Service if you suspect that Forest Service permitted cattle are on your private land or adjacent private lands. It is very helpful to get the eartag color, brand, and color of the livestock.


For more information, contact Dean McFetridge at the Methow Valley Ranger District at 509-996-4030.


                                             Revised: 07/25/2010