In the old days, the USFS, BLM, and the Farm Bureau were govt entities dedicated to assisting ranchers and farmers in successfully ranching and farming. They actually did a lot of good in helping them develop water sources and access to range areas. Nowadays the government attitude is to protect the forests and ranges FROM the ranchers and farmers. It coincides with the environmental movement. I can't say the environmental movement is all bad, but it surely has swung the pendulum way too far to one side in recent years, for my taste. I suppose it is hard, these days, to find a person with the education and qualifications to hold decision-making positions in agencies like BLM and USFS who is not an "environmentalists", but it would sure be nice if an administration (ie, president) would appoint heads of agencies who are sympathetic to farmers and ranchers and get the agencies back in balance and assisting farmers and ranchers in being successful using environmentally sound methods. In Arizona all they think about is increasing the elk and deer herds, which are already at historic highs. You can now pick up range leases for a pittance, because you sure can't make a living on them.
I think the main problem is that a large portion of the population of the US lives in the most densely populated parts of our country, so they really don't see all the environmental issues and the impact of what they vote for. All they know is that they want to preserve the environment. It's sad that folks who only take occasional vacations into the western lands make so much policy for those who actually live and make their living there, without fully understanding the real issues and the effect their votes have.
Back a while, there was a company in Panguitch, Utah called Verd's Best that made the best honey you could buy. They went out of business when I was in high school. I was told it was because the BLM came to them and told them they were going to have to pay a fee of 25 cents per hive because their bees were using BLM land to produce honey. Since it was a family business, they simply didn't want to deal with the govt any more, so they quit and retired.
I'm hoping that one can still ride their own horse/mule through the Grand Canyon by the time I make my trip. That's something I have wanted to do all my life. From what I read, you can still do it, as long as you stay on trails approved for horse travel, camp only in designated camp grounds, take your own feed, and travel at your own risk (you are responsible for removing dead or injured animals at your own expense). I imagine it won't be too long before only registered outfitters under contract with the park are allowed.
Enough politics. Better get back to info about the GWT and AZT. Fun discussion, though, and thanks for the pics.