O’Connor hears Upper Green ROD objections

More testimony set for March 14

JACKSON – Eight groups objecting to the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s draft decision for the Upper Green rangeland grazing project met with Supervisor Tricia O’Connor Friday in the first of two meetings.

“The Upper Green is probably one of the more complex rangeland decisions on the forest; some people might say for the Forest Service,” O’Connor said. “Ecologically, economically, socially – It’s not an easy decision. … I actually believe all of you in this room have the same interest in the forest’s health.”

Each group was represented at the table by one “lead objector,” including Sublette County ranchers Eddie Wardell and David Noble, as well as Mike Henn of the Sublette County Conservation District.

Also present were Jonathan Ratner of the Western Watersheds Project, Justin Williams of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Bonnie Rice and Lloyd Dorsey for The Sierra Club. Andrea Santarsiere of the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation group attorneys came in via teleconference at the Supervisor’s Office.

Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman also called in to speak against the BTNF’s draft decision for the Upper Green grazing project, for which a final environmental impact statement and the draft record of decision were released in November.

O’Connor and facilitator John Kuzloski laid out ground rules – she made it clear that “no grazing” is an option she would not discuss. Friday’s full-day agenda covered objections to changes in fencing and pasture rotation, vegetation use, greater sage-grouse, streambank stability and amphibians.

Pinedale District Ranger Rob Hoelscher and Dave Booth, plus members of the EIS’s interdisciplinary team, answered and explained details about Hoelscher’s draft decision. O’Connor said she will review objections and proposed remedies from the two meetings and inform Hoelscher of what, if anything, needs to be changed in his final record of decision.

The larger subject of grizzly bear conflicts will be continued at the objectors’ second meeting on Wednesday, March 14, at 9 a.m. in Jackson’s Wyoming Game and Fish Office, 420 N. Cache Dr. These meetings are open to the public.

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