By Robert Lucke
The fall grazing season and grazing in general was a topic that took up much of the Hill County Park Board meeting on Aug. 8.
The grazing committee had met and made some recommendations for the 2000 grazing season, Superintendent Golie reported.
"Everyone (the grazing committee) has looked it (Beaver Creek Park) over. Dean Hanson suggested we go on a three year average and when the grass is gone, it's gone," said Golie. "This is a year that we wouldn't want anyone to put an extra fifty or so cattle on because it is so dry."
There was some discussion of one rancher who had not been on the park for a few years, and how he could only put a third of what cattle he had on when he was using the park for grazing.
"I thought you maintain the three year average or you are off," said Commissioner Pat Conway.
"Someone who has used the park in the past, we take one third of what they have brought in, in the part," related Golie. "Everyone knows what the conditions are."
"Is there any grass on the tops?" asked Conway.
"From camp on up isn't that bad," responded Golie. "Below the camp the ridges are terrible and even the bottoms are drying out. I don't think the grass is going to last long and when it is gone, it is gone."
"We don't want to graze the park down to a pool table," said Conway. "We've really got to watch that this year."
"This is a year that the grazing committee might be meeting sooner than other years," said Commissioner Kathy Bessette.
Park Board member Larry Kinsella told the group that ranchers will be watching closely as well, because they don't want their cattle to experience a shortage of grass this fall.
The Board adopted the grazing committee recommendations.
Then Commissioner Conway asked, "If you are not grazing cattle on the Park, how can you get on the Park? Do you have a standing list?"
"We have had a standing list," answered Golie.
"Then anyone who wants on should call you and get on the list," asked Conway. "If someone had not been on for ten years, isn't there a cutoff point so someone else can take it."
"Can you sell your lease for a year?" asked board visitor Lou Hagener.
"What we have done in the past is let the rancher keep his average but stay off," said Golie. "The three year average is a tradeoff. Last year was good, so they will use it more during a good year just to keep their average up."
Board members heard that there is a small number of cattle in the Park, particularly in the lower areas. Kinsella told of a couple of cows that are just like deer, only coming out at night and never being seen during daylight hours.
The matter of water wells on the Park was discussed. One cabin owner came to the board asking permission to dig a new shallow well at his cabin site. Board members said that he could dig the well with supervision of the Park Superintendent. A committee was formed to look into forming a water well policy for cabin owners.
Superintendent Golie reported that a new water well is being dug at Kiwanis Camp and they are down 53 feet, getting only 5 gallons of water a minute. That well is probably going to be dug again in another spot according to Golie. The manual water well in the lower Park is pumping 7 gallons a minute without even a pump on it, Golie further related.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has hired an independent contractor to come out to Beaver Creek Park on Aug. 22-23 to study and give an opinion about the creek and riparian areas to help them put together recommendations for the new highway through the park according to Hagener.
The next regular Hill County Park Board meeting will be on Sept. 4 in the jail courtroom.