Wilderness Watch has formally appealed the renewal of two 10-year livestock grazing permits in western Colorado where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is abandoning its wilderness protection responsibilities and choosing cows over Wilderness, violating the law, and ignoring its own obligations to the public. In both instances, BLM has authorized motor vehicle use and motorized equipment use well beyond what is allowed by the various federal laws, guidelines, and regulations.
In the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, BLM authorized motorized access to “check on livestock to avoid or detect emergencies,” haul camp supplies to support the annual gather, and place salt. Wilderness Watch monitors Wildernesses all over the country and to our knowledge this is the only place motor vehicles are allowed for such routine livestock management practices. BLM refused to consider commonplace nonmotorized alternatives.
In the Powderhorn Wilderness, BLM went so far as to allow extensive chainsaw use to cut out 15 miles of “cattle movement corridors” inside the Wilderness, develop a foot trail into a road to allow motor vehicle access, authorize the use of a mini-excavator to periodically clean out a stock pond, and permit the use of Utility Transport Vehicles (UTVs) to drive into the wilderness with fencing material. BLM provided no analysis of nonmotorized alternatives, but merely rubber-stamped the rancher’s request.
Photo: Powderhorn Wilderness, CO by BLM