Wilderness Watch urged the Forest Service to drop its proposal to open the Hoover Wilderness in California to cattle grazing. Bordering Yosemite National Park along the Pacific Crest and falling away to the Great Basin to the east, the Hoover Wilderness is a spectacular piece of the Sierra Nevada range in California. First established as a Primitive area in 1931, then a Wild area in 1957, the Hoover Wilderness was officially designated in 1964, making it one of the original members of America's National Wilderness Preservation System.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed to re-open parts of the Hoover Wilderness to cattle grazing as part of its "Bridgeport Southwest Rangeland Project." The area has been closed to grazing for years. Previously, the area was grazed by domestic sheep, but that practice was ended to protect the Sierra bighorn sheep, which is listed as both state and federally endangered. In fact, this area is within the Northern Recovery Unit for the Sierra Bighorn sheep.
Allowing cattle grazing in the Hoover Wilderness would create substantial impacts to the Wilderness and its watersheds and native wildlife. Parts of the grazing allotments are well over 10,000 feet in elevation and unsuitable for cattle grazing. Fencing would adversely impact existing habitats and protected species, such as Sierra bighorns. Cattle grazing would directly reduce native forage available for wildlife, damage vegetation and riparian areas, degrade water quality, and spread invasive weeds.
It isn't right to compromise the Hoover Wilderness, which belongs equally to all Americans, to benefit a few private livestock ranchers, none of whom have relied on cattle grazing in the Hoover Wilderness for their livelihood.
Photo: Scrub Hiker via Flickr