Thursday, February 17, 2011

Grazing association, Forest Service at odds

The Forest Service is in the midst of deciding how it will manage the half-million acres of grasslands carved into 15 grazing pastures. The agency is taking the pastures three at a time and is putting out a management plan for the second batch of three. It sent out a scoping document last month and will take comments on it until Friday. In it, the agency proposes to restrict grazing to the average number of cow-calf pairs in the pastures during the past five to seven years. It plans a deeper cut of up to 20 percent below that average in one of the pastures closest to Montana. The goal, says project manager Libby Knotts, is to increase the amount of high structure grass preferred by sharp tailed grouse, a bellwether species in the grasslands. "High structure" is defined as having a visual obstruction reading of 3.5 inches or more...more

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