CREEDE—The Rio Grande National Forest’s Divide Ranger District is seeking comment on a new proposed action for the environmental analysis of the Snow Mesa and Wishbone sheep allotments. The Forest is proposing to create a new domestic sheep grazing allotment in Mineral County called Wishbone and vacate the Snow Mesa allotments.
An environmental assessment for comment was released August 11, 2015 for the Snow Mesa Sheep Allotments, located on the Divide Ranger District in Mineral and Hinsdale Counties. Due to overlap between domestic and bighorn sheep on the allotments, the potential risk of contact between species was high, as was the potential for disease transmission. Review of comments prompted further analysis and a new proposed action.
The Wishbone allotment is composed of seven pastures near Highway 149 from Coller State Wildlife Area to 6 Mile Flats; in the South River area from Marshal Park Campground to Ivy Creek Campground; and the Shallow Creek and Crystal Lake areas. The allotment would provide for the same number of livestock and grazing season length as currently permitted. This new proposed action has been developed to lower risk of contact between domestic and bighorn sheep while continuing to provide the opportunity for domestic sheep grazing.
Forage on public lands contributes to the economic viability of individual ranching operations. Livestock-based agriculture is historically and culturally important in the San Luis Valley. Bighorn sheep also provide social and economic value to local communities.
Written comments are most useful if received within 30 days of the publication of the legal notice in the Valley Courier (expected on March 8) and may be mailed to Divide Ranger District, 13308 West Highway 160, Del Norte 81132. Comments may also be submitted electronically to [email protected]
For more information, visit the Snow Mesa Allotments Analysis webpage at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=42886 or contact the Divide Ranger District at 719-657-3321.