From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 18 - July 31, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Grazing EIS proposed

by Cat Urbigkit

The Bridger-Teton National Forest published its official announcement last week that it plans to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the effects of domestic livestock grazing in the Upper Green River area. The analysis contained in the EIS will be used by the agency to decide whether or not, and how, livestock grazing would be authorized on the grazing allotments within the project area.

The majority of the project area lies within Sublette County, with small portions that extend into Teton and Fremont counties. The entire 162,800-acre project area lies within the boundaries of the Pinedale Ranger District. The project area is comprised on the following six grazing allotments: Badger Creek, Beaver-Twin Creeks, Noble Pastures, Roaring Fork, Upper Green River, and Wagon Creek.

According to the Federal Register notice: "The purpose of this analysis is to determine if livestock grazing is appropriate within the analysis area. If livestock grazing is appropriate, there may be a need to update and/or refine desired rangeland conditions and develop new management prescriptions to meet them."

To date the Forest Service has identified three alternatives.

Possible Alternatives

Alternative A: Grazing as Currently Permitted (No Action Alternative)

Although allotment management plans would be prepared for each of the six allotments, the grazing management practices specified for the allotments with existing AMP's would not be chang-ed. The Upper Green River and Roaring Fork allotments would continue to operate under the guidelines specified in AMP's that are over 25 years old, and season-long grazing would persist in the Badger Creek and Beaver-Twin Creeks allotments. In addition, no new utilization standards would be initiated to move existing resource conditions in the project area toward the desired future conditions specified in the Forest Plan.

Alternative B: Proposed Action

The Forest Service proposes to authorize grazing use within the project area under updated grazing management direction, in order to move existing rangeland resource conditions toward the desired conditions that will be developed by an interdisciplinary team. The updated direction would be incorporated in respective allotment management plans to guide grazing management within the project area. New Allotment Management Plans would be developed for the Badger Creek, Beaver-Twin Creeks, Noble Pastures, and Wagon Creek allotments, and the existing AMP's for the Roaring Fork and Upper Green River allotments would be updated as a result of this action. Grazing management strategies would be developed or revised in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations which describes allotment management planning provisions. Current grazing management strategies would be maintained where resource objectives are being achieved, and new management strategies would be implemented in areas where resource objectives have not been met. Rotational grazing systems would be initiated in the Badger Creek, Beaver-Twin Creeks, and Roaring Fork allotments and modified, as needed, in the remaining allotments to ensure desired conditions are reached.

Alternative C: No Grazing by Domestic Livestock (No Grazing Alternative)

Alternative C would eliminate livestock grazing in the project area. This alternative was developed to demonstrate the effects that eliminating domestic cattle grazing would have on the environment and to more clearly illustrate the potential effects of implementing either Alternative A or Alternative B. Under this alternative, domestic livestock grazing in all six allotments of the project area would be phased out over several years as existing Term Grazing Permits expire.

The Forest Service had identified the following issues to be addressed in the EIS: the effects of livestock grazing on riparian and aquatic function; effects of livestock grazing on threatened, endangered and sensitive species; social and economic effects of authorizing livestock grazing in the area; and the effects of livestock grazing on rangeland function.

Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by Aug. 25. The draft EIS is expected in September and the final EIS is expected in January of 2004.

Send written comments to Craig Trulock, District Ranger, Pinedale Ranger District, Box 220, Pinedale, Wyoming 82941. For further information, mail correspondence to mailroom r4 bridger and on the subject line, put only "Upper Green Grazing Allotments.''

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