Volume 5, Number 50 - March 9, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Agencies update cattlemen
Friday afternoon, a variety of natural resource agency personnel spoke with members of the Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association about issues of interest.
Big Piney District Ranger Greg Clark explained that the U.S. Forest Service is able to use a categorical exclusion for current management that is working, resulting in achieving resource objectives, allowing streamlining of the permitting process for livestock grazing.
Clark said as part of that process, the Bridger-Teton National Forest plans to look at 40 allotments this year.
Clark noted that not all allotments would fall under the categorical exclusion since some allotments on the forest may require more detailed analysis.
Boulder cattleman Joel Bousman pointed out that monitoring of range use and conditions are what gives the permittee and the agency the data that allows the categorical exclusion.
“If you have the data to back up the decision, the likelihood of a lawsuit goes way down,” Bousman said.
Clark said the categorical exclusion wouldn’t be used on the northern end of the forest because of big issues like grizzly management.
Bureau of Land Management Range Specialist Steve Laster noted he’s been working in the area for 25 years now and is surprised with the level of change in this past quarter of a century.
“It’s a phenomenal change,” Laster said, commending the livestock producers for adjusting to this level of change so well. Part of that change involves an expanding BLM staff to more than 50 people in the Pinedale Field Office, with many of these people new to the area.
Laster encouraged the cattlemen to spend time with BLM staff members and help them learn about the area.
Laster provided an update on several items of interest, including the hope that the draft resource management plan for the Pinedale area may be published in September.
“We have a new boss in Pinedale,” Laster also told the group. Dennis Stenger comes to the position with a minerals background, Laster said, adding that Stenger just started last week.
Wyoming’s range budget was “cut drastically this year,” Laster said.
The BLM is due to have all of its rangeland standard evaluations and grazing permit renewals completed by 2009, Laster said.
“We’re better than the majority done,” he said, adding that there are still some smaller allotments that need to be addressed.
Sage-grouse populations are still a hot item, Laster said, noting that the BLM has drafted sage-grouse-habitat guidelines. The guidelines include a forage-height minimum for grouse nesting habitat that was dropped from seven inches to 3.9 inches.
It was noted that the discussion provided reasons why permittees should get involved in monitoring their allotments; for permitting, sage grouse habitat and because the BLM range budget is suffering.
Laster said, “Don’t rest assured that I’m out there collecting the data necessary for your range operation.”
A joint cooperative monitoring program is a good venture.
“Cooperation is just as important as water and grass,” Laster said.
As for the lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the feeding of elk on federal lands, Clark said that agency personnel are working on a statement of facts for the attorneys handling the case for the federal government.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional wildlife supervisor Bernie Holz said the state will argue that wildlife feeding is a wildlife management tool and wildlife management is a state issue, not subject to federal jurisdiction.
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