Feds Want Big Cuts in Grazing
Proposed change would last until vegetation improves
STANLEY -- The U.S. Forest Service wants to reduce grazing by more than a third on two allotments east of the White Cloud Mountains in the Sawtooth National Forest.
The management change for the Upper East Fork and Lower East Fork allotments along the East Fork of the Salmon River would ban grazing on 33,500 acres until vegetation improves. It also would require fences to keep cattle out of some areas used by people for recreation.
“The decision strikes a balance between the growing recreation uses and sustainable livestock grazing,” acting area Ranger Terry Clark said.
The seven Custer County ranchers holding the grazing permits have until late November to appeal the proposal, which steps back from an earlier Forest Service plan to cut grazing on the allotments in half. The allotments cover more than 100,000 acres.
“Our decision was neither simple nor easy,” Clark said, “because not only of the mandates we are given to carry out in managing and protecting these public lands, but because we care deeply about the effect our decisions have on rural communities and the economic well-being and lifestyles of all who use and depend on the national forests.”
He said the Forest Service was searching for alternative range to offset the East Fork grazing reductions and their impact in a county where ranching and agriculture are critical to the economy.
U.S. District Judge B.Lynn Winmill ordered review of the management plan for the allotments after environmentalists sued in 2001, claiming the Forest Service had not maintained required periodic management reviews.
Idaho Conservation League spokeswoman Lynn Kincannon welcomed the revised grazing plan, arguing that it recognizes that “there have been a lot of changes in use out there. There have been big increases in recreation use.” The East Fork proposals came as environmentalists demanded enforcement of grazing closures in higher elevation areas on the southern part of the forest.
Kent Fothergill of the Sierra Club claimed cattle have been allowed in unpermitted areas. Minidoka District Ranger Scott Nannenga said he was still reviewing the conditions of the grazing permits .
“This is not a case of a couple of cattle that have strayed this year,” Fothergill said. “This is a case of chronic, wanton abuse of high elevation lakes, public recreational values, watershed values, plant and animal communities through unrestrained livestock use.”
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