Comments Needed on the Bear Creek Livestock Allotment Management Plans on the Ochoco National Forest. Comments are due by August 19th. Even short comments help—please comment today!
Livestock allotment management plans such as the Bear Creek Livestock plan lock in livestock use (cattle and sheep) over the long-term (15 years or more) on public/Native treaty lands, often to the detriment of riparian areas, fish habitat, amphibians, and available forage and water for species such as native deer and elk and for wild horses. Riparian areas that may be harmed include streams, rivers seeps, fens, and springs. Below are some of our concerns and talking points, and instructions for how to comment:
We are especially concerned by the proposed action allowing continued livestock impacts to Threatened-listed Steelhead trout, Redband trout, Columbia spotted frog, and also Sensitive-listed plant species in the Bear Creek Livestock Allotment Management Plan.
We are concerned by continued livestock impacts to sensitive plants that are known or suspected to be in the allotment area from direct livestock grazing, trampling, and introduction and dispersal of exotic invasive plants by livestock that can outcompete native plants. Dewatering of streams and other water sources by livestock could also contribute to the loss of sensitive and rare plant populations. Riparian and meadow-associated Sensitive plants are especially at risk, including Botrychiums (moonworts), Carex (sedges), Mimulus, Salix wolfii (willow), and the endemic Peck’s Mariposa lily.
Given that the grazing allotment areas are failing to meet multiple riparian standards such as those for streambank stability, cool enough water temperatures for fish species, sufficient riparian hardwood shrub and tree cover for stream shading, suitable stream width to depth ratios for fish, and inadequate numbers of pools for fish, it doesn’t make sense that the Forest Service is not proposing to closure of the most damaged pasture areas to livestock, reductions in livestock numbers in the most degraded allotments, and/or shortening of the grazing season to avoid spring riparian damage or fall forage shortage for deer and elk.
The actual “carrying capacity” of the land does not seem to be based on accurate calculations, based on the continued violations of Forest Plan standards (INFISH and PACFISH) and the sate water quality standards. The Forest Service determines an overly broad inclusion of almost all lands on the Forest as “suitable” for livestock, including sensitive and easily degraded riparian areas and designated Critical Habitat for Threatened-listed Steelhead trout and Wilderness Areas.
Legacy impacts to riparian areas in particular will not be restored until all livestock are removed from the areas affected for enough years (likely 20 or more) to attain full recovery to natural conditions.
We support the “No Action” alternative that would end the livestock grazing for more reliably restoring stream bank stability, channel morphology, and riparian plant cover within a reasonable time period (based on the science, within 10 years for riparian plants and 15 years for streambank stability). The “No Action” alternative could be combined with active riparian restoration planned such as hardwood shrub and tree planting and placement of large wood in streams to increase pool abundance. The No Action alternative would be the cheapest, most effective, and most ecologically sound alternative. The Forest Service’s Environmental Impact Statement admits that the No Action alternative (i.e., no livestock grazing) would be “expected to provide for the greatest improvement to riparian range conditions within the shortest time frame” (DEIS pg. 78).
If you share our concerns or have concerns of your own about livestock use of public/treaty lands on the Ochoco National Forest, please send written comments by August 19th
You can submit comments electronically at: http://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=43759
You can also mail comments to: Slater Turner, District Ranger, 3160 NE Third Street, Prineville, Oregon 97754
For more information from the Forest Service about the Bear Creek Cluster Allotment Management Plans Draft Environmental Impact Statement, call or email Beth Peer at 541-416-6463 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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