Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Utah and Forest Service split on La Sals goat plan

Rocky Mountain goats have never roamed Utah’s La Sal Mountains. Still, state wildlife officials, bent on establishing goats there, will not delay this week’s planned transplant — despite a request from the U.S. Forest Service, the agency responsible for managing this small island range rising from the desert canyon country around Moab. The project might benefit trophy hunters, but only at the expense of a fragile alpine ecosystem that has been specifically protected for scientific study, environmentalists and the Forest Service itself say. Now, critics contend the agency is failing its land-management obligations by not intervening in a project that violates the Manti-La Sal National Forest management plan. "They are ceding decision-making to a state board whose constituency is hunting," said Mary O’Brien, Utah forest program manager with the Grand Canyon Trust. "They are saying they aren’t responsible for habitat. If that’s how the system has been fixed, it needs to be changed." At the last minute, the Forest Service announced its opposition to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource’s La Sals plan, saying wild goats could harm rare plant communities and the 2,380-acre Mount Peale Research Natural Area, as well as violate Forest Service policies...more

And would they be objecting if wolves weren't in the management plan?  Also, see Jim Beers' commentary below.

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