Timber Oligarchs Transform Into Beef Barons in Harney County and the Oregon High Desert

Source:  Counterpunch


The addictive beauty of an ungrazed sagebrush expanse and big sky bordering Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

by Katie Fite

Throughout the Ammon Bundy and militia thug seizure of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the media has not reported on the modern day filthy rich cattle barons of Harney County and beyond. Articles rarely if ever contain an environmental voice. Yet there have been endless interviews of carping ranchers claiming oppression by the federal government.

PROFILE OF A HARNEY COUNTY RANCH OWNING FAMILY: 6000 Cattle Impacting 750,000 Acres, 100 Race Horses

An Oregon Public Broadcasting story on taxpayer subsidies to cattlemen included a Harney County ranch manager griping about federal government over-reach.

OPB reported:

“Harney County locals may not like the militants’ tactics, but the prospect of more local control over public lands continues to have appeal. Ranchers say their tension with government is born from rules and restrictions driven by “radical environmental groups,” and the frustration of dealing with a plodding bureaucracy that drives up costs and undermines their economic security.

“This is our life. This is our livelihood. We’re good stewards of the land,” said Berry Anderson, manager of Treetop Ranches, south of Burns. “It’s frustrating that people who don’t even have a dog in the game can take it away from us.”

The Treetop Ranch Owner Family

Just who are these embattled ranchers, reeling from the heavy-handed tactics and oh-so-restrictive grazing policies of the BLM ?

Fancy “Treetop Ranch” signs have sprung up on huge spreads across eastern Oregon and portions of Idaho in recent years. Larry and Marianne Williams control Treetop Ranches, and their cattle herds impact a vast area of crucial sage-grouse habitat across eastern Oregon and portions of Idaho.

They are very wealthy people. The Williams family made millions in timber. Then went into public lands welfare ranching and raising race horses. The Simmental beef article describes:

“Mr. Williams had sold his company, Idaho Timber, and shifted into the cattle business primarily in Idaho and Oregon. He also maintains a very successful thorough-bred horse-racing program near Parma, Idaho. In 2012, William’s Horse Racing Nation’s “Rousing Sermon” finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby”.

“Mr. Williams put the Oregon operation together over the last 10 years. It consists of six different ranches, totaling 750,000 acres. The ranches are not adjacent

to each other, stretching about 150 miles long and 100 miles wide with other ranches interspersed among our properties,” Anderson said”.

The article continues:

“We run about 6,000 cows and 1,000 replacement heifers each year. We’ve had a serious drought in recent years, so we’re cutting back our numbers a bit. It takes about 125 acres to run a cow in this rough, lava rock country,” he continued. “Our headquarters is very remote, about 50 miles southeast of Burns (population: 5,000), which is where we do most of our shopping. The nearest larger city is Boise, which is 180 miles to the northeast.”

Yes, three quarters of a million acres – largely BLM public land plus large state and private holdings. Treetop controls ranches near Burns, at Oregon Canyon north of Mcdermitt, and across the “big empty” sagebrush sea of the region. Vast BLM grazing permits including crucial sage-grouse habitats and wilderness study areas are under the hooves of this operation.

A Hundred Race Horse Crop

Treetop also raises race horses, based in Parma, Idaho.

“For the last 13 years, Kiser has managed the horses owned by Larry and Marianne Williams. Kiser lives and works at the ranch and is in charge of about 100 horses”.

See also http://trainermagazine.com/.

Read the rest of this story HERE.


  1. HARNEY COUNTY has been in the news so much lately, with the rancher stand-off at the Wildlife Refuge…where have we heard about HARNEY COUNTY before?
    The BLM intends to conduct the first Sterilization Experiments on Wild Mares (including pregnant Mares) in Burns, Oregon

    BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service Experimenting on Wild Horses

    10) Included is an invoice from the HARNEY COUNTY VETERINARY CLINIC, owned by LEON PIELSTICK, so you can see where some of your tax dollars went.
    Below is a presentation seemingly by LEON PIELSTICK, DVM, the veterinarian who has been conducting experiments on the field spaying of mares, and it shows (possibly Leon Pielstick himself) spaying a mare at a wild horse sanctuary

    Liked by 1 person


    Oregon Horse Tripping Bill Now Law!
    July 1, 2013
    Update July 1, 2013: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has now signed S.B. 835, a ban on horse tripping, into law. For more on this important legislation, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

    SHARK volunteer, Adam Fahnestock, from Vancouver, WA, was actually arrested by Malheur County, OR sheriff’s deputies for filming this and other horse tripping at the 2013 Jordan Valley “Big Loop” rodeo.
    He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and later released on $1,000 bond. Sheriff’s deputies approached him and told him to stop filming and he refused. There was a scuffle as Fahnestock tried to protect his camera and he was handcuffed. The rodeo was on private property, but a number of people were filming or taking photographs. Here is more video of the 2013 rodeo. Only Fahnestock was singled out. Later that day, Steve Hindi, founder of SHARK, was stopped by a sheriff’s deputies as he was driving away from the rodeo where he was ejected from the rodeo for having a camera. The traffic stop was purportedly because Hindi allegedly failed to show ID at the rodeo.

    Last year Animal Law Coalition’s Russ Mead was surrounded and threatened at the Harney County, OR rodeo as he tried to photograph horse tripping events there.
    Watch the video: http://animallawcoalition.com/oregon-horse-tripping-exposed/
    Oregon state Senators Mark Hass and Bill Hansell introduced the bill which passed the state senate by a vote of 22-6. The bill has now moved to the state House of Representatives where a hearing was held on May 13, 2013 by the Judiciary Committee. At the May 13, 2013 hearing,

    Animal Law Coalition’s Russ Mead disputed testimony that horse tripping or roping does not occur at rodeos in Oregon. Mead went to the Harney County Rodeo in Burns, Oregon on July 7, 2012 and obtained photographs of horse tripping and roping taking place as rodeo events.


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