Open range — A hidden property tax. The Nov. 29 Statesman editorial focused on urban or high-traffic areas. However, a statewide solution is needed. In open range, you have the choice of building and maintaining a fence at great cost or tolerating trespass cattle, damage to your property and the loss of your use and enjoyment of that property. Costs for fencing can be $6 per linear foot. A one-acre lot with an 800-foot boundary would cost about $5,000 to fence, plus annual maintenance.
Most fences are not built according to the state standard and are sieves for livestock. As pastures are grazed to the point there is little forage left, the cattle breach these fences and trespass where “free” forage is available. Anyone who wants to recover the costs of damages for this trespass grazing faces a difficult task and is unlikely to succeed. Livestock owners in rural areas well know there is little likelihood they will be held to account under these antiquated laws, so there is little incentive to properly manage grazing on their own property or adequately construct and maintain fences. Idaho needs to respect private property and change this law so livestock owners must control their livestock.
John Carter, manager, Kiesha’s Preserve, Paris