CREEDE — Divide District Ranger Martha Williamson recently signed a decision notice approving the creation of the Wishbone domestic sheep allotment and vacating the existing Snow Mesa allotments. The decision was informed by the Snow Mesa – Wishbone Sheep and Goat Allotments Environmental Assessment.
“My decision to approve the creation of the Wishbone domestic sheep allotments will reduce the risk of disease transmission between domestic and bighorn sheep while continuing the multiple use mission of the Rio Grande National Forest,” said Williamson.
The Snow Mesa domestic sheep allotments are 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. Moving the domestic sheep to the Wishbone allotment will decrease the chance of interaction between domestic and bighorn sheep while continuing to provide the opportunity for domestic sheep grazing.
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 provides for the same number of livestock and grazing season length as currently permitted.
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 are native to Colorado and are on the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region sensitive species list.
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.