The Payette National Forest has announced its decision to capitulate to the domestic sheep industry and interpret the Bighorn Sheep Rider passed via the  2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act in a way contrary to the clear language of the statute, halting implementation of it’s Payette Decision which would have removed domestic sheep use from the Forest in order to ensure bighorn sheep viability.

Bighorn sheep populations throughout the West are threatened by deadly disease spread by domestic sheep

You may remember we had previously contemplated the language of the rider :

Restrictions are further limited to any management changes “in excess of the management restrictions that existed on July 1, 2011 ”.  The Payette Decision was finalized on July 30, 2010.  It is unclear whether the Payette National Forest will interpret the language of the bill to halt implementation of Phase 3 of the Payette Decision, or whether it will carry out its finalized decision as per its July 30, 2010 decision made prior to the rider’s cutoff date.

“Management restrictions” established to protect bighorn sheep on the Payette clearly existed prior to July, 1 2011 – the decision was made.  The failure of the Forest Service to recognize the significance of the July, 1 2011 cut-off date threatens bighorn sheep on the Payette National Forest to benefit one rancher who it is suggested already sold her flock.  There is NO HARM in continuing implementation of a management restriction that existed prior July 1, 2011.

Payette N.F. Halts Implementation of Bighorn Sheep Decision at 2011 Stage USFS Press Release

The decision went into effect on August 20, 2010 with grazing allotment permit modifications completed prior to April 1, 2011. The ROD selected 7O modified which incorporated a gradual reduction in suited domestic sheep and goat grazing lands starting in 2010 and added new standards, guidelines, and monitoring requirements to maintain separation between the two species of sheep. The analysis indicated that in order to reduce risk of contact between the two species and prevent the transmission of fatal respiratory disease from domestic sheep and goats to bighorn sheep populations, domestic sheep and goats must be kept away from bighorn sheep and their areas of habitat use.

The US Forest Service’s willingness to buckle to the political pressure of the Livestock Lobby and twist the language of the statute on behalf of a single rancher despite clear statutory language excluding direction to do so demonstrates the degree to which land managers making decisions based on best science on the ground are sidelined by political cowards in Washington D.C.

 
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Brian Ertz

16 Responses to Payette National Forest Caves to the Sheep Industry

  1. I guess this is regulation crafted for the top o.oooo1% 🙁

  2. avatar Barbara Slott says:

    Once again livestock (domestic or feral) trumps native wildlife. 🙁

  3. avatar Barb says:

    I thought the original decision was too good to be true. Every “win” seems to be temporary.

    Part of the plan for saving the spotted owl is to kill barred owls.

  4. avatar Craig says:

    What a buch of bullshit, someone payed somebody to get this shit done! Also here is another issue that could effect Bighorns http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/media/viewNewsRelease.cfm?newsID=6206

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Craig,

      Thanks for bringing the link to everyone’s attention. It’s a shock how many diseases or infestations kill or weaken wildlife once you start paying attention to these things. I read the link and didn’t see any reference to bighorn getting the lice, but it’s a reasonable fear.

      As far as the bighorn regulation, I don’t think money passed hands. Of course, I can’t prove it. My argument has been that Idaho and other Western congressionals cater to these few people voluntarily because of the system of semi-feudal political relations they have established in the West. These big sheep and cattle operators are treated similarly to barons, earls, and other nobility in old Europe. It is a kind of relationship that predates capitalism.

    • avatar Doryfun says:

      Lice infestation to deer may have come from some of the people in this town. Sorry, couldn’t resist a bad joke. (Based on local bumper sticker philosophy, parading about town).

  5. avatar wade morgan says:

    i think that all problems were addressed and thought through, and even though, coming from a sheepherding background and am not completely fond on the official ruling over the matter…. even i have to agree that the decision provided adequate habitat to support a viable population of bighorn sheep as directed in regulations implementing the NFMA, they complied with the HCNRA Act, honored tribal rights and interests, avoided or minimized impacts to bighorn sheep, (which are identified as a SENSITIVE species), eliminate overlap of domestic sheep and goat allotments with the bighorn sheep core herd home ranges, maintained domestic sheep AND goat grazing where the risk of contact can be avoided to address the multiple use sustained yield act, implemented monitoring measures and forest plan direction to provide habitat that supports viable bighorn sheep populations, and provided resources to implement the decision that are reasonable for the long term…. for those that read the actual ruling and scientific examination…. and have not basing their comments on this poorly generalized propaganda

    • avatar Doryfun says:

      Wade Morgan

      …. for those that read the actual ruling and scientific examination…. and have not basing their comments on this poorly generalized propaganda.” That is a long read, with a lot of difficult language and interpretation to wade through. (propaganda?)

      “The ROD selected 7O modified which incorporated a gradual reduction in suited domestic sheep and goat grazing lands starting in 2010 and added new standards, guidelines, and monitoring requirements to maintain separation between the two species of sheep. The analysis indicated that in order to reduce risk of contact between the two species and prevent the transmission of fatal respiratory disease from domestic sheep and goats to bighorn sheep populations,

      domestic sheep and goats must be kept away from bighorn sheep and their areas of habitat use.”

      “The forest is complying with the requirements of the Act while at the same time providing a lowered risk of contact between the two species,” said Lannom.

      How does: “Providing lowered risk” equate with keeping sheep and goats “away” from bighorns? Lowered risk is not the same thing as ”no risk.”

      That the Salmon River Canyon is one of the last (if not last) canyons in the west that contains a “remenant population: (not reintroduced) of bighorns, on the decline, but with management concerns to turn around, adds significant weight of wildlife value to the multiple use equation.

      In this case, “no risk” seems justified.
      Lowered risk is just more politics.

      I think Ralph is right, this spells “impending lawsuits.”

  6. avatar Wolfy says:

    So much for expecting the “people in charge” to do the right thing or even follow the law. And there seems to be no down side for those following the corporate carrot. Groups may sue the feds, but its the public paying for the whole process in the first place. If one of these “people in charge” actually gets nailed (very unlikely)through a investigation totally controlled by the Feds, then they get transferred or reassigned. BS indeed!

  7. avatar DB says:

    Didn’t the Forest Supervisor have to abide by the language of the 2012 appropriation act?

    • avatar Brian Ertz says:

      Yes, the Forest Supervisor has to abide by the language, but the language clearly precludes the rider’s applicability to the Payette Decision

  8. avatar JEFF E says:

    maybe Siddoway can get a taxpayer subsidized sound bite and cry us some big ol crocodile tears about those big ol mean bighorn sheep, then we can talk about poorly generalized propaganda.

  9. avatar Joe says:

    Good…If the state wants the feds to feed all of their animals and host most of their hunting, they should have to pay just like the camper, the logger, and the christmas tree hunter. The state hunting seson is nothing more than a special use which they should have to pay a fee for. The forests were created with multiple use in mind, to provide Timber, water, recreation, and livestock forage. There are trade offs to have access to these things, if the state has reintroduced these herds in such poor locations (within Urban Interface) that bighorn health will always be at risk, that is not the fault of the feds, it is the fault of the state.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      The bighorn sheep in the Salmon River Canyon are not reintroduced. They are a remnant population that is declining due to disease passed to them by domestic sheep. Neither the Salmon River Canyon nor Hells Canyon are anywhere close to an urban interface.

  10. The Salmon River Canyon NATIVE Bighorns include the East Fork herd and all Bighorn populations in the Salmon River Drainage downstream from the East Fork. This includes the Middle Fork, North Fork, and South Fork and any remnant Bighorns in the Lemhi Valley.
    The only introduced Bighorns are those on the Upper Pahsimeroi part of the Salmon River Drainage. I helped release twenty four Bighorns from Canada’s Banff National Park in 1970 in the Mahogany Creek drainage in the Pahsimeroi Valley. Those are the only non-native Bighorns in the entire Salmon drainage. Some descendents of those introduced Bighorns may winter at the west end of the Lost River Mountains near Challis.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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