My spouse and I live on an old family homestead (been in the family for almost 100 years). Elevation 8400', mountain country (rocky tundra), completely surrounded by US Forest Service lands. We love it here!
Except for the little "cow problem"...
The Forest Service allows a cattle leasee to run 350 cow/calf pairs on the land surrounding our 160 acres. And Colorado is a "Fence Out" state, meaning *we* and we alone are responsible to fence out the bovine hord. The fence line was done many years ago in 4 strand barbed wire, a lay-down type, metal T-posts holding it up, aspen stays creating the fence. The beauty of this is that it can be let down onto the ground before the heavy snow flies. The difficulty of this is that it was not let down for many years when no one lived here and the weight of snowpack (often 6' deep in the depth of winter) pushed the wires and T-posts into the ground in many places. So "restoring" this fence is laborious. The alternative is to let the T-posts, which are pushed into the ground to 6" high in many places, stay in the ground and do some other type of fencing over the top of it. Instead, we've been jacking the posts out by hand gradually and setting up the old fence. Then letting it down in the fall. This is a couple miles of fence, mind you, and much of it in heavy forest or on rocky hillsides. We are years along into this project and it has been a bear.
They, the range cows, prefer our meadow valley with two natural springs to the rugged hills around us, so they come in all the time to graze because our fence is still down in many places we haven't gotten to. We ride them out on horseback and with dogs. But it is a "several times a day" summer project from July (when they are allowed to be put on the allotments around us) till Oct when they are hauled off. I am unable to work offsite in the summertime. We are unable to take vacations away because the cows would come in en masse in our absence and the destruction is profound...hundreds of head on our mountain tundra is devastating...we are trying to undo the damage they've done over decades when no one lived here or monitored the situation.
The cattle leasee is not a very nice guy, not attentive to his cows while they are here. Sometimes they die and we report this but he does nothing to remove the dead bodies. Sometimes we see ill cows or injured ones and report it, but they are not tended to. We don't keep cows here, partly because we could not keep them away from the trespassing herd. We do keep horses and sheep and have had serious illnesses come in that are likely traceable to the range cows. He has been frustrated in the past when we push his cows out, to the point of physcially threatening my husband and (12 yo at the time) son, of filing a lawsuit about the problem of us evicting his herd and causing him trouble in having to move them back around to their appropriate allotments...which lawsuit we won. But still the trespassing goes on due to the Colorado Fence Out law.
We hoped, since the land has been in family hands for so long, we might ourselves be able to take over the lease/allotments and either graze our own cows or sheep or let the lease "drop" and be free of cattle here on this fragile land which they are destructive too in such large numbers. But we have not been able to "nose in" to get the lease, it seems quite impossible to claim that it would be more appropriately ours.
I'm just reaching out for ideas re: legalities from those knowledgeable in this area of law. And re: fencing...I think there must be a better "mousetrap" but my husband feels the old way of lay-down fence is the only thing that will work.
Hoping to resolve this huge problem before the next generation becomes discouraged over it and sells the place to be free of it.