Uinta Cattle Grazing Allotment Monitoring

Photo Credit: Kandis Christensen|||||| Photo Credit: Kandis Christensen|||||| ||||||

Status

In 2013, Y2U reported to the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest and the Ashley National Forest that cattle were trespassing, long-term, in the Burro Peaks, Thompson Peak and West Beaver allotments, which were closed to grazing in the 2003 Forest Plan Decision. Y2U documented these trespass cattle in fall of 2015 and reported this trespass to both Forest Supervisors. Y2U has continued monitoring year after year, reporting results to the Forest Service. The Forest Service has been using deferment tactics with Y2U since we began reporting this issue in 2013 continually putting the onus on our staff to identify whose cattle the offenders belong to. During the 2018 summer monitoring of the three closed allotments, only Burro Peaks had trespass and unauthorized cattle use. Thompson Peak and West Beaver allotments remained livestock free.  In the summer of 2018, Y2U placed twelve (12) game cameras throughout these allotments to capture irrefutable data; photographs that are labeled with date, time and coordinates. We have provided the Ashley and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests with our final report and the evidence of trespass and unauthorized use including dates, coordinates, ear tag color, brand and photos of the occurrences.  During the spring of 2019, Y2U staff met with one of the permittees, the Lonetree Ranch, that run cattle in the Burnt Fork and Beaver Creek allotments that surround the closed allotments.  Lonetree Ranch, with Y2Us support, was able to convince the Forest Service to try combining the Burnt Fork (West Side) and Beaver Creek allotments for three years.  Grazing rotation started on one end of the allotments moving to the West throughout the season.  Next year the rotation will start on the opposite end and move East.  The third year of the trial will have no grazing and rest both allotments.  Y2U will monitor the impact of combining the allotments closely to ensure that the adaptive management results in a healthier forest.  The most beneficial part of combining the allotments was that it allowed Lonetree Ranch to justify the cost of having a range rider on the combined allotments ensuring that the Lonetree Ranch cattle were where they were supposed to be.  This summer Y2U placed eight (8) game cameras throughout the Burro Peaks allotment to capture irrefutable data; photographs that are labeled with date, time and coordinates. In large part due to having the range rider present all season, Y2U only documented two days of unauthorized use of the Burro Peaks allotment and no unauthorized use of the Thompson Peak and West Beaver allotments by Lonetree Ranch cattle.  The two days of unauthorized use were determined to have occurred during the Labor Day weekend at which time the range rider had been pulled down to Hoop Lake to manage human/cattle conflict at the camp areas.  Y2U documented five days of unauthorized use of the Burro Peaks allotment by cattle coming from the Ashley National Forest, Hickerson Park allotment.  We have provided the Ashley and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests with our final report and the evidence of trespass and unauthorized use including dates, coordinates, ear tag color, brand and photos of the occurrences.  The full report can be found below.

Work Plan

  • We will be meeting with both Forests in late April of 2020 to discuss this ongoing issue and demand that something is done to eliminate the trespass and unauthorized use of the Burro Peaks allotment.
  • Y2U is looking into legal representation to provide additional pressure on the agencies to eliminate this perennial issue.
  • Y2U will continue monitoring the Burro Peaks, Thompson Peak, and West Beaver Allotments that were closed to grazing in the 2003 Forest Plan Decision for trespassing cattle.
  • Y2U will report trespass and unauthorized cattle to the Forest Service and permittees as well as continue pressuring the agency to maintain the standards set forth in Annual Operating Instructions (AOIs).

Expected Outcome

Significantly reduce or eliminate trespass and unauthorized use of the closed allotments in the High Uinta Wilderness which will provide a much-needed reprieve for wildlife and other wilderness users from livestock grazing

Note: Y2U was recently asked by Wilderness Watch to participate in a campaign to permanently close all wilderness areas to livestock grazing.  We will provide information and data from the many years of monitoring livestock grazing impacts in the High Uinta Wilderness in support of that effort.