The Pinedale Ranger District on the Bridger Teton National Forest (FS) just came out with its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Upper Green Grazing Allotment. This allotment covers 170,00 acres and is the largest FS grazing allotment in the country.

 

The FEIS is a huge Christmas present for the ranchers grazing this area while it throws chunks of coal to the American public that own these lands.

 

The FS proposed alternative will require very modest changes in grazing terms that will, by its own admission, still result in degradation of public property and resources by livestock.

 

By contrast, the No Grazing alternative in the FEIS is easily the best option for the American people.

 

The No Grazing Alternative 1 clearly articulated in the FEIS Table ES-3 Summary of effects on resources would have the greatest positive benefits and most rapid improvement and/or reduction of negative impacts in every category reviewed. https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=3049

 

This includes improvement in ground cover, species composition, reduction in soil compaction, soil erosion, improvement in soil quality, improvement in stream bank stability and water quality as well as riparian recovery, improvement in fisheries by reducing fine sediments and lowering stream temperatures, improvement for amphibians, grizzlies, elk, wolves, sage grouse, and moose, while eliminating conflicts between other users of the public lands and livestock, as well as improving the naturalness of wilderness areas.

 

Not mentioned in the table, but the elimination of livestock grazing would also be a gift for taxpayers by eliminating the subsidized grazing program.

 

Indeed, the only area where the No Grazing alternative would have a significant negative impact is on the “traditional use of the area” meaning ranchers.

 

While the FS is under no legal obligation to pick the alternative that is best for the ecosystem, wildlife, and other users and owners of these lands, ethnically what the FS is proposing is wrong. It is arguing that everyone who owns these lands should accept less than the best outcomes simply to maintain “traditional use.”

 

This is analogous to a property manager (FS) of a rental property arguing that the property owner (in this case the US citizens) should continue to allow tenants to degrade the property, and pay less than the market price for rent, simply because they have traditionally used the property.

 

The Pinedale Ranger District seems to forget who is paying their salaries and that these are public lands that belong to all Americans. As part of the nation’s patrimony, the FS has a responsibility to manage lands that best protect the interest of all Americans, not a small subset of livestock producers using public lands for private gain. Continued grazing of the Upper Green Allotment clearly does not benefit the American people, or the wildlife and other resources that rely on our public lands for their existence.

 
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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

3 Responses to BTNF ignores public in Upper Green Grazing Decision

  1. avatar Gail says:

    With more attention than ever focused on biased decision- making in favor of ranchers you’d think they’d at least have made a more intelligent and fair decision.
    Can anything be done at this point?
    As always, thanks for keeping us updated, George. Sharing….

  2. avatar Judy Hawn says:

    This is an excellent article. Well said. The courts have been instrumental in some instances,of overturning outrageous desions made by governing bodies. I know that course is expensive, but is there any chance of trying it?

  3. avatar Sandy Lee says:

    While I do not live near the areas in question, I have always loved our national parks and the outdoors. I find it increasingly disturbing and frustrating that each administration ignores more and more what the public wants. We may be the owners and pay the salaries but obviously as with many things today the wishes of the people are ignored. This does not even really help anyone it just puts money in the pockets of rich people. I wish there was a way to fire all and start over with responsible people who have the best interests of our parks and public lands ass their objective.

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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."

~ Edward Abbey

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