ASI Comments Support Continued Grazing at Sheep Station
June 17, 2016

The American Sheep Industry Association filed extensive comments to the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station Grazing and Associated Activities Project 2016 Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The comments in their entirety are available at www.sheepusa.org/IssuesPrograms_Issues_SheepExperimentStation.

"The Agricultural Research Service has provided a critical venue for sheep breed development, evaluation and improvement," read the written comments submitted by ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. "Because the majority of America's sheep are bred and raised west of the 100th meridian, mostly in the Intermountain West, the research and development conducted at the station is invaluable. For example, the station has made germplasm available to ranchers and has developed three of the most important sheep breeds - the Columbia, the Targhee and the Polypay. ARS has also conducted extensive research on the effects of fire on rangelands, the health and recovery of the sage grouse and its habitat, controlling invasive and noxious plants, and limiting impacts of livestock grazing practices on natural resources.

"The purpose and need of the EIS are defined by the mission of ARS and the station itself. ARS's mission is to 'conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access to and dissemination to:
  • ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products;
  • assess the nutritional needs of Americans;
  • sustain a competitive agricultural economy;
  • enhance the natural resource base and the environment and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities and society as a whole.'
"Alternative 1 - the preferred alternative and proposed action - allows for the continued grazing of domestic sheep at all ARS lands, including headquarters pastures, Henninger and Humphrey Ranches, and East and West Summer Ranges, as well as on three National Forest Service allotments.

"This alternative allows ARS to further its dual mission of, first, providing research and development of sheep breeding and production in the Intermountain West and, second, learning how to raise sheep in an environmentally-sensitive and sustainable manner so as to maintain the health and longevity of our rangelands and wildlife," the comments state. "The station is the only research center of its kind in the country and it provides an invaluable service. Alternative 1 recognizes the station for what it is meant to be - an integrated research facility that seeks to better understand the interactions between the human world and its interface with the natural environment."