High Unitas Domestic Sheep Ken LundWilderness Watch is opposing a plan that would continue to permit domestic sheep grazing in critical bighorn sheep habitat in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah. This nearly half-million acre Wilderness protects Utah’s highest peaks, hundreds of lakes, and many species of wildlife. A Forest Service (FS) proposal would allow nearly 39,000 domestic sheep to graze on 10 allotments totaling more than 150,000 acres in the High Uintas Wilderness. In April we joined the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection and nine other organizations (plus one citizen) in submitting scoping comments strongly opposing this plan.


Grazing is a compromise written into the 1964 Wilderness Act that is one of the more destructive activities allowed in Wilderness. A large concern about this plan is the likelihood of the High Uintas Wilderness losing its bighorn sheep population, which could likely die out due to fatal diseases contracted from domestic sheep. (The two types of sheep cannot co-exist without bighorns dying.) Domestic sheep grazing in this Wilderness will continue to damage the wilderness character here in many other ways as well. The impacts include the trapping and killing of native predators ostensibly to protect domestic sheep; the destruction and loss of vegetation needed by other native species such as elk, moose, and deer; and the extensive damage to streams and wetlands. Due to these and other unacceptable impacts to the High Uintas Wilderness, we are asking the Forest Service to close these allotments to domestic sheep grazing. We also support a bill, the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA, H.R. 3410), which would buy out and permanently retire grazing permits in Wilderness and on other federal public lands.


Read our comments.


Photo: Ken Lund

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