Wilderness Watch is urging the Forest Service to drop its proposal to issue permits for cattle grazing in three vacant allotments in the Gros Ventre Wilderness, plus an adjacent allotment located between the Gros Ventre and Bridger Wildernesses, all within the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. The Elk Ridge Complex Rangleland Supplementation includes more than 13,000 acres in the Gros Ventre.
The Gros Ventre and Bridger Wildernesses are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Located southeast of Grand Teton National Park, the area is critical habitat for native wildlife such as wolves, lynx, wolverines, and grizzly bears. The Fish and Wildlife Service has already authorized the killing of up to 72 grizzlies in adjacent grazing allotments in the National Forest, and the last thing grizzlies need is more potential conflicts with cattle.
In addition to impacts to wildlife, cattle grazing could also do extensive damage to important riparian areas, harm aquatic life, and spread invasive weeds. And, grazing is fundamentally at odds with Wilderness and the Wilderness Act’s mandate that Wilderness remain untrammeled.
The Forest Service should protect the Gros Ventre and Bridger-Teton Wildernesses and their wildlife by permanently closing all four vacant grazing allotments instead of filling them.
Photo: North slope of Sawtooth Ridge, Tolsi Creek, by Howie Wolke