SUBLETTE COUNTY – After years of analyses, Bridger-Teton National Forest officials announced its decision Tuesday, Oct. 24, to select a “modified” Upper Green grazing-management option.
The draft environmental impact statement offered four alternatives, ranging from closing six allotments to grazing, to continuing permittees’ “current management,” to the one selected – “modified grazing management.”
The six grazing allotments involved are the Badger Creek, Beaver-Twin, Noble Pastures, Roaring Fork, Wagon Creek, and the Upper Green River allotments that run up the Green River into the Wind River Range in the Pinedale Ranger District.
The executive summary notes a long history of livestock grazing as well as Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem delisted populations of grizzly bears and gray wolves.
The chosen alternative is designed to close gaps between desired and existing resource conditions on the rangeland, it says.
However, it also notes that relatively few areas – mainly stream segments and banks – fall into less-than-desired conditions for resources under Upper Green grazing permittees’ current use.
“The existing conditions in the 170,643-acre project area encompassing the six allotments predominantly meets the resource objectives, and the desired conditions,” it states. “Limited areas of concern, in which there is a gap between desired and existing rangeland and riparian conditions, have been identified.”
Four impacts were identified through public scoping – effects on threatened, endangered and sensitive species; effects on riparian conditions; effect on on socioeconomics; and effects on rangeland function.
The BTNF’s modified Alternative 3 was developed in response to comments from the public, permittee comments and extended data and analyses “to establish maximum allowable use with site-specific prescriptions and/or structural improvements.”
Under current management, it notes an average presence of 6,192 animal units or 68 percent of the allowed 9,089 cow-calf pairs. The alternative cuts 270 animal-units from the Mosquito Lake rotation of the Upper Green allotment to allow a total of 8,819.
Deferred or rotational grazing would be initiated in the Badger Creek, Beaver-Twin Creeks, Roaring Fork and Wagon Creek allotments “to meet Forest Plan requirements to eliminate season-long grazing.”
Focus-area prescriptions include lower maximum forage uses in some places, maintaining 76 miles of existing fences and building 6 miles of permanent fence – to divide the Beaver-Twin Allotment into three pastures, add South Kinky Creek Pasture to the Tosi-Tepee Creeks rotation and manage riparian areas in the Noble Pastures Allotment. Electric fence would close off a Wagon Creek focus area with an option for Tosi Creek.
BTNF spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said that a 45-day objection period begins once the draft record of decision and EIS are published soon in the Casper Star-Tribune. Objections can only be filed by person or groups who submitted written comments during scoping and other comment opportunities.
The Upper Green grazing documents are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=3049.