Pocatello Municipal Watershed

Photo Credits: Kandis Christensen|||||| Photo Credits: Kandis Christensen|||||| ||||||

Status

The Westside Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest continues to permit cattle to graze and pollute watersheds and streams that comprise Pocatello’s water supply. In 2012, Y2U organized an allotment tour with the Forest Service and other interested parties and livestock permittees. The Forest Service management allows continued pollution of the streams and water supply by livestock. Our report and comments were submitted on the DEIS, showing all the streams in this 43,200-acre project area were polluted by nutrients, sediment and E. coli. We have engaged Pocatello City and provided our information to them and urged them to request that the watershed be closed to grazing. Pocatello City did request that the Forest Service close the area to grazing. Currently, the Forest Service continues permitting grazing at the same level.  Y2U submitted a very direct rebuttal of this decision to the Forest Service. Our work lead to them closing a small portion of the watershed to grazing.  Y2U opposed the Forest Service's categorical exclusion of the new decision to force Pocatello City to build and maintain fences to protect this portion of the watershed, which should be the responsibility of the livestock permittees.  Pocatello is already paying the costs of treating their drinking water, their discharge water and this will only increase those taxpayer costs. The city recently passed a $9.5 million bond issue to obtain more surface water rights in this watershed largely due to the water quality issues related to their current water supply.  E. Coli data collected by Y2U indicates that this watershed needs to be closed to livestock grazing.  Follow up monitoring by Idaho DEQ validated our data.

Work Plan

  • Prepare a Freedom of Information Act request for data and information from the Forest Service.
  • Y2U is currently seeking legal representation to challenge the Forest Service and their continued renewal of grazing permits in this municipal watershed.

Expected Outcome

Continue placing pressure on the Forest Service to manage the allotment in a way that reflects the current impact that current grazing has on the drinking water of more than 100,000 citizens.  Continue conducting water quality monitoring, submitting comments, and raising awareness through media.