Grazing Alternatives at USSES Spelled Out

March 25, 2016

In its Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement released earlier this month, the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Sheep Experiment Station spells out grazing alternatives developed from public comments to the original environmental impact statement.

The USSES proposes to continue historical and ongoing grazing and associated activities in order to achieve its mission of research goals and objectives, which include to develop integrated methods for increasing production efficiency of sheep and simultaneously to improve the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems.

The following grazing alternatives have been proposed:
  1. Modified Alternative 1 - Modified Proposed Action - No New Federal Action: Preferred Alternative. This alternative proposes no new federal action, just a continuation of the historical and ongoing grazing and associated activities necessary to achieve the mission of the station. Grazing currently occurs on Headquarters pastures, Henninger and Humphrey Ranches and East and West Summer Ranges. In addition, the following Forest Service allotments are utilized: Snakey-Kelly, East Beaver and Meyers Creek.
  2. Alternative 2 - No Grazing Alternative: Alternative 2 was developed in response to the public suggestion that sheep grazing be eliminated completely from the Sheep Station operation. Grazing would not occur on any of the ARS lands or allotments. The University of Idaho would dispose of the sheep or seek alternative lands outside of this project.
  3. Modified Alternative 3 - Developed in response to the public suggestion that grazing be eliminated in the Centennial Mountains. No grazing would occur on the East Summer Range, West Summer Range and Humphrey Ranch east of Beaver Creek, as well as on the following allotments: East Beaver and Meyers Creek. Grazing would continue to occur on Headquarters, Henninger Ranch, Humphrey Ranch west of Beaver Creek and the Snakey-Kelly allotments.
  4. Modified Alternative 4 - Developed in response to the public suggestion that grazing be eliminated adjacent and within the grizzly bear primary conservation area. No grazing would occur on the East Summer Range as well as on the Meyers Creek Allotment. Grazing would continue to occur on Headquarters, Henninger Ranch, Humphrey Ranch, West Summer Range and Snakey-Kelly and East Beaver allotments.
  5. Modified Alternative 5 - Developed in response to the public suggestion that grazing be eliminated to avoid areas that are near bighorn sheep range. No grazing would occur on the Snakey-Kelly Allotments. Grazing would continue to occur on Headquarters, Henninger Ranch, Humphrey Ranch, East and West Summer Range, Myers Creek allotment and East Beaver allotment.
The sheep station is managed to meet ARS and USDA goals as defined in the National Programs. While the proposed action is designed to continue to meet these objectives, the alternatives that reduce sheep flocks or grazing areas, reduce the station's ability to meet those goals and provide useful research. Alternatives 2 and 3 reduce sheep grazing to such an extent that the goals and objectives of USSES would not be met.

The Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available for review at www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/20560500/20160308RevisedDEISussesMasterFinal.pdf. The Notice of Availability of the Revised DEIS is anticipated to be published in the Federal Register soon with a 45-day public comment period following the publication. Additional information will be passed along once the notice is published.