May 23, 2008
May 23, 2008 - Sheep producers from Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah met with federal land management agencies on May 9 to discuss issues ranging from bighorn sheep conflicts to rangeland management. Janette Kaiser, director of rangeland management for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (FS), and Anne Zimmerman, acting associate deputy of the FS, addressed the attendees.
The bighorn sheep discussion dominated a majority of the meeting, including several topics specific to states and particular allotments. As a follow up, the FS did ask sheep producers to develop best management practices (BMP's) for the separation of domestic sheep and bighorn sheep. These BMP's would be included in a document much like the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies "Recommendations for Domestic Sheep and Goat Management in Wild Sheep Habitat."
Rob Roudabusch, division chief of rangeland management for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Bob Bolton, senior rangeland management specialist for BLM, also spoke with producers. Roudabusch briefed attendees on BLM's grazing and energy priorities and how the two interact. At the forefront of issues discussed was the issue of grazing permits and their renewal.
Roudabusch and Bolton ranked the priorities for the grazing allotments, which included the new guidelines on how these priorities would be administered. Allotments are prioritized in this order: 1) allotments where there is a clear indication of range health issues; 2) allotments with no clear indication of range health issues; and 3) allotments that are considered custodial, or where less than 10 percent of the land is maintained by BLM.
BLM has also been active in the call for the listing of the sage grouse to the Endangered Species List. BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have had several data exchanges, including BMP's for habitat preservation and expansion. A decision is expected to be rendered in December. Staff contact: Dustin Bryant, 202-484-7134