Tomorrow I travel with Luanne Wallewein to Great Falls to sit in the Federal Court to support John Helle and his family’s right to graze their sheep on public land. He is a good steward of the land, a good advocate for products made and grown in the USA and a strong advocate for family.
The thought that a few overzealous mislead people could cost a family and industry so much with a lawsuit is discouraging. The Gallatin Wildlife Association has filed a lawsuit against the US FWP and US Forest Service to stop the Helles and other families from grazing on U.S. National Forest lands in the Gravelly Mountains. The Gallatin Wildlife Association believes that the grazing sheep are a threat to Grizzly bears and big horn sheep. Glenn Hockett states their goal is not to harm the Helle business, but intent does not always dictate outcome.
If you could travel to Great Falls tomorrow (July 8th, 2015) and sit in support of the Helle family please do. The injunction hearing will start at 1:30 pm in the Federal Court House.
Below is quoted from the Readers Digest Magazine, July 2015 Issue
The Good Shepherd: John Helle, Dillon, Montana
A rancher’s work reflects a life fueled by pride in America
As you read this, John Helle is prepping for a 50-mile ride into the Gravelly Mountains with his parents, his oldest son, and 5,000 sheep and lambs. Every July, Helle, a third-generation rancher, herds his flock to their summer pastures in an annual rite he has observed since childhood. The sole wool provider for Duckworth—a wool manufacturer he co-owns and the only one that keeps its entire supply chain within U.S. borders—Helle is trying to revive our country’s garment-making heritage.
According to Duckworth president Robert Bernthal, the number of sheep in Montana plunged from more than four million in 1970 to fewer than 300,000 today, due largely to manufacturing moving abroad. “Our way of life has been lost over the generations,” Helle says. From his Montana ranch, the wool is transported to the Carolinas, where it is spun into yarn and knit or sewn into garments that end up on the backs of outdoorsmen like Helle and his neighbors.
The ranch’s 20 employees—who include his parents, brother, uncles, and four children—shear about 10,000 sheep a year. Like their ancestors, they herd their flocks on horseback and sleep in classic sheep wagons in the summer months. “Two hundred years ago, people would think nothing of getting in covered wagons and heading west to find opportunities,” Helle says. “They all survived; of course, they probably wore a lot of wool.”