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Wednesday, May 5, 2004


East Fork grazing plan tweaked

SNRA: wolves, bighorn not affected by livestock

Express Staff Writer

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is clarifying this spring that livestock grazing in the East Fork of the Salmon River valley does not "substantially" degrade the habitat for bighorn sheep or wolves.

Based on an appeal by a local environmental group, the SNRA is tweaking a decision it made in September to curtail grazing on the east slope of the White Cloud Mountains.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a revised record of decision for the grazing allotments last week.

Western Watersheds Project, a Hailey environmental group, appealed the original decision after is was issued in September 2003. The appeal alleged the decision failed to provide for an adequate assessment of the impacts livestock grazing has on bighorn sheep and wolves.

The appeal reviewing officer in the Forest Service’s Intermountain Regional Office found that information is presented in the record regarding the effects of livestock grazing on wolves and bighorn sheep. However, the conclusion required by the law that established the SNRA requires a clearer determination that wolves and bighorn sheep would not be "substantially impaired."

The decision was remanded to the SNRA. Officials were ordered to spell out the effects.

There are no changes to the original decision in the new document, said Sarah Baldwin, SNRA area manager. The new decision clearly spells out that continued livestock grazing on the upper and lower East Fork allotments will not cause substantial impairment of SNRA wildlife values associated with wolves and bighorn sheep.

As with the original decision, the new decision is subject to appeal.

Copies of the new decision will be available on the Internet at www.fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth, or at the SNRA headquarters office 8 miles north of Ketchum.


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