BLM issues EA, draft ruling on area grazing lands

RBC I The White River National Forest and Blanco Ranger District have released an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Decision Notice for the Morapos Creek, Wilson Mesa and Deer Creek sheep and goat grazing allotments.

The EA analyzes domestic sheep grazing on the Morapos Creek, Wilson Mesa and Deer Creek S&G allotments and identifies resource management opportunities within the project area. The EA analyzes three alternatives, including no grazing, continued management and a third adaptive management alternative for the three allotments.
The draft decision notice (DDN) identifies Alternative 3 as the selected alternative. Under this alternative, the current management system is selected as the starting point for the permits administered on these allotments. This alternative is based on the principle of “adaptive management,” a process that uses focused monitoring information to determine if management changes are needed, and if so, what changes and to what degree.
“This Environmental Assessment is about providing district staff a tool box to respond to the needs of the resource and the needs of the permittees,” stated Curtis Keetch, the new Blanco District Ranger in Meeker. “I selected Alternative 3 in the Draft Decision Notice because it positions the district to adaptively monitor the allotment for the future, which will benefit the livestock and the land.”
Adaptive management is a process that allows the Forest Service to manage for changing conditions and new information over time. Ultimately, this approach gives the authorized officer the flexibility to adapt to change within the constraints imposed by the EA and subsequent decision, and to align with Forest Plan Direction.
“Flexibility is key to appropriate management in range allotments,” stated Hal Pearce, the district’s range and invasive species coordinator. “The adaptive management tool gives discretion to the ranger to make changes within the scope of the Environmental Assessment.”
As long as implementation continues to remain within the scope of the EA, the district ranger may choose to implement adaptive changes. If a needed change has not been evaluated within this EA, additional NEPA analysis and decisions may be necessary.
The allotments in the analysis are located on the furthest north side of the Blanco Ranger District, accessed by State Highway 13 to Moffat County Road 41 that turns into Rio Blanco County Road 58. The three allotments encompass 12,334 acres within an elevation range of 7,600 to 10,445 feet.
The EA and DDN are available online at: www.fs.usda.gov/project/ ?project=44050. These documents are also available for review at the Blanco Ranger Station, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, Colo. 81641. Additional information can be obtained from: Mary Gillespie at mlgillespie@fs.fed.us, or 970-878-6015.
The Morapos Creek, Wilson Mesa and Deer Creek Sheep and Goat Grazing Allotments Project is subject to the objection process pursuant to 36 CFR 218, subparts A and B.