April 2017

Hello Folks,

It has been a busy three months at both of the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection offices. As we watch the current administration dismantle decades of environmental protections we do not expect the pace to slow down. Our staff is dedicated to standing up and providing a voice for the wild critters and their habitat throughout the unique and irreplaceable wildlife corridor that connects the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Southern Rockies and the Uinta Mountains.

First, we are super excited about the new web page, www.yellowstoneuintas.org, designed by Third Sun Productions! www.thirdsun.com. Our new web page is incredibly appealing to the eye and very user friendly. Daniel Carolan, the new Y2U Social Media Director, has been doing a great job of keeping the web page Issues and News and Events sections current. Going forward the Resources section will be used to archive our projects, publications, and additional resources to assist anyone else that may be up against similar issues. Please take a moment and go through the web page to see why we are so excited!

For never having written a grant proposal before last December, I am happy to announce that we were successful in getting two Foundation grants! We would also like to acknowledge financial support from the following donors: Astrov, Clee and Mary Sealing, Susan and Dean Warren, Jason and Kandis Christensen, John G. Carter, Mike and Staley Krause, and Laura Fisher. Without these foundations and donors, we would not be able to perform this most important work. We thank all of you.

Kandis and Jason Christensen spent a good portion of January and February down at the Utah State Capital lobbying against the Bear River Development Project. Y2U, in conjunction with Jack Greene of Bridgerland Audubon Society, Darren Bingham of SOSNR – USU, and many fine folks from Utah Rivers Council were successful in getting the $2 Billion Bear River Development Project taken off the table at the State Legislature. We were also successful in keeping the $50 Million “box car bill” that would fund the obtainment of easements for the Bear River Development from being heard in any committee this past session. Y2U and Utah Rivers Council will continue to put pressure on State Legislators regarding the Bear River Development and fight this project that would drop the level of the Great Salt Lake 2-4 feet in a given year, divert the Bear River upstream of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and it’s remarkable estuary, decimate tens of thousands of acres of sensitive shoreline wetlands along the Great Salt Lake that are vital habitat for 8-10 million migratory birds, and expose thousands of acres of lake bed, thereby creating massive dust storms and exacerbating air quality problems along the Wasatch Front.

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On January 26th, 2017, Jason and Kandis met with Rick Schuler, District Ranger of the Evanston-Mountain View Ranger District, Rowdy Muir, District Ranger of Flaming Gorge-Vernal Ranger District as well as both district Rangeland Specialists regarding the continuing trespass of cattle into the Burro Peaks, Thompson Peak and West Beaver allotments that were closed to grazing in the 2003 Forest Plan Decision. I believe that we had a productive meeting with the following agreed upon actions to be taken by Y2U staff members and both District Rangers to work toward keeping the closed Burro Peaks, Thompson Peak, and West Beaver allotments, in-fact, closed to trespass grazing. The first step, which we believe will be the most effective step, is to educate the permittees of the Burnt Fork, Beaver Creek and Hickerson (Ashley N.F.) Allotments regarding the Burro Peaks, Thompson Peak and West Beaver allotment closures. We also support the idea of continuing to educate the permittees regarding your utilization standards and how the proper management of their herds on these allotments will sustain future grazing on these allotments versus over grazing which will lead to alternative actions such as allotment closure and continued harassment by the likes of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection. We are very much in support of range riders to keep the cattle moving throughout the allotment and not congregating for long periods in or near the riparian zones. Range riders are critical to keeping the cattle out of the closed allotments. The second step that we agreed on is that Y2U staff members will strive to obtain and provide to the Forest Service GPS Coordinates, photographs of ear tag color and when possible, brands of cattle that we find in the closed allotments. This will enable the Forest Service to better act with regards to which permittees cattle are trespassing in the closed allotments. Y2U staff members will provide this information immediately following field monitoring to assist the Forest Service in taking rapid action. We will stop by the Ranger Station on our way out of the allotments and report to the Forest Service. This will be great when we can report that we did not find any cattle in the closed allotments! The third, and possibly the most important point that we agreed upon is that we need to communicate. We understand that the Forest Service is understaffed and not sufficiently funded with regards to the immense amount of ground that they are responsible for. We will do our best to communicate with the Forest Service regarding trespass cattle, utilization, and stocking rates in a meaningful and constructive manner so that we may all work together to accomplish our goals and meet the standards set by the Forest Service regarding both closed and open grazing allotments in this area. I also requested that they share with us their monitoring methods, frequency, and results so that we may compare with our monitoring results. This will assist both of us with an understanding of the “on the ground” conditions in these allotments and what actions need to be taken. If we continue to find cattle in the closed allotments, we requested to know what actions the Forest Service will take against a permittee whose cattle continue to trespass in the closed allotments after the above stated steps have been taken.

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The 440-acre open pit Rasmussen Valley phosphate mine will destroy plant and wildlife communities and wetlands as well as further contaminate the Blackfoot River and its tributaries with heavy metals including selenium. Y2U filed an objection to the Rasmussen Valley Mine FIES and Draft ROD on October, 21st, 2016. On March 1st, 2017, Y2U filed a Notice of Appeal, Statement of Standing, Statement of Reasons, and a Petition for Stay. Dr. Carter and our legal team at Wildlands Defense in Boise, have been working extremely hard to stop this mine from being approved by the BLM. Please see www.yellowstoneuintas.org/issues/item/84-rasmussen-valley-mine for more information on this issue.

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On February 22nd, 2017, Y2U, in conjunction with Wildlands Defense, filed scoping comments on the Bloomington C&H Corral Project. We are working to eliminate cattle trespass on public and private lands in Paris Canyon, Idaho. We are pushing the Forest Service to implement better public lands management and regulations in this important area of the Bear River Range. We expect the Forest Service to act on our suggestions to improve the habitat in Paris Canyon, which is an important part of the wildlife corridor that connects the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Southern Rockies and the Uinta Mountains. We also recommended the analysis of Canada lynx, wolverine, black bear, bighorn sheep and their historical occurrences, preferred habitat, and travel routes in the Bear River Range and how the activities described herein affect their sustainability and ultimately, their ability to survive. For more information on this project please see www.yellowstoneuintas.org/issues/item/90-bloomington-c-h-corral-project.

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Y2U and Wildlands Defense have submitted scoping comments and a proposed alternative for analysis in response to the Forest Service’s Red Ryder Vegetation Management plan to thin timber in the Bear River Range, both in the Logan and Ogden Ranger Districts. The timber harvest is being proposed in the name of wildfire control and to prevent the spread of pine beetle. However, there is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed methods. The timber harvest and the construction of new roads would increase the habitat fragmentation and degradation within the Bear River Range and the unique and important wildlife corridor that connects the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Southern Rockies and the Uinta Mountains. Furthermore, the Forest Service fails to address the most harmful use of public land in the Bear River Range: Livestock Grazing. Dr. Carter, Y2U’s staff ecologist explains, “Over the years we have monitored conditions and found excessive amounts of bare soil, forest understory losing litter cover, soil carbon and nitrogen being depleted, conifer forest mycorrhizal fungi layer disrupted by livestock trampling, riparian areas degraded, spawning habitats filled with high levels of sediment from eroding watersheds and banks, causing native cutthroat trout to experience extreme mortality of their eggs and larvae. Our analysis has shown the allotments grossly overstocked, the native herbaceous plant community greatly below potential and increasers dominating the community. Water developments create highly damaged areas as cattle and sheep congregate around them.” Please see www.yellowstoneuintas.org/issues/item/92-red-ryder-vegetation-managment for more information on this issue.

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Kandis and Jason attended the Public Lands Rally in Boise, Idaho at the Idaho State Capital March 4th. This Public Lands Rally was hosted in part by our partners at Wildlands Defense. We accomplished a lot of networking at this event and consequently will be participating in the Speak For Wolves Conference, an annual wildlife advocacy conference in the heart of Yellowstone. Dr. John Carter, the Y2U staff ecologist, will be participating on the Panel Discussion on the Displacement of Native Wildlife by Invasive Livestock at the Speak For Wolves Conference. Y2U will be tabling at the event as well. For more information regarding this event please see http://www.speakforwolves.org/. I also encourage all of you to follow Wildlands Defense on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildlandsdefense. They are doing some amazing work for the protection of wildlands throughout the Western U.S.
Y2U, in conjunction with Smile Event Productions and Herm’s Inn, will be hosting a dinner and concert by the famous Joe McQueen Quartet on April 21st. The dinner and concert option will start at 6:00 PM for $50. The concert only option will start at 7:30 PM for $15. There is a very limited amount of seats still available for dinner so if you are interested please act quickly. Everyone must RSVP to

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Y2U will be presenting on May 11th at the Wasatch Packtivists meeting hosted by Utah Wants Wolves. The meeting will be held at the Salt Lake City Library, located at 210 E. 400 S. in downtown Salt Lake City at 7:00 PM. For more information please see www.facebook.com/events/1474929299208160/.

We sure appreciate all of you and your support of our efforts to protect wildlife and habitat in the Yellowstone to Uintas wildlife corridor. You can go to our new web page to donate if you are so inclined.
www.yellowstoneuintas.org.

Until next time,

Jason Christensen
Director
Yellowstone to Uintas Connection