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Contact: Sue Fritzke, 435-425-4100
Torrey, UT – Today, the National Park Service released its Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Capitol Reef National Park Livestock Grazing and Trailing Management Plan for a 30-day public comment period that closes Aug. 17.
“Cattle grazing and trailing have historically been part of the park’s landscape and mandated use, which is why it is important that we develop a plan to continue that use while also preserving the park’s natural and cultural resources,” said Capitol Reef Superintendent Sue Fritzke. “As part of that process, we will continue to work with our permit holders, stakeholders, the public, and local, state and federal partners to ensure a collaborative final product.”
During the public comment period, the NPS will host one in-person meeting where staff will be available to discuss the EA. The meeting will be held from 6 pm to 8 pm on Aug. 1, at the Wayne County Community Center, 605 South 350 East, Bicknell, UT 84715.
The preferred alternative in the EA seeks to minimize impacts to permit holders by keeping current trailing routes open and maintaining the same number of maximum Animal Unit Months in the active grazing allotment. The preferred alternative also incorporates widely-accepted management techniques, including pasture rotation, fencing, monitoring, and adaptive management to balance grazing and trailing with available forage. These techniques are intended to improve rangeland health and protect park resources, including threatened and endangered species, their habitat, and riparian areas. None of the alternatives included in the draft plan propose eliminating grazing and trailing within the park.
The EA will be available for public review and comment online via the Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/care_lgtmp_ea. Hardcopies of the EA will also be available at local libraries and a limited number can be requested, as described on the planning website. Comments will also be accepted at the public meeting and via U.S. mail.
The planning process began with meetings, discussions, and scoping with Cooperating Agencies and the public in 2014 and 2015. The comments NPS received were used to help inform and develop alternatives and analysis that are now included in the EA. Similarly, NPS will use the comments received on this draft to finalize the plan.
When the NPS began the planning process, there were two active grazing allotments that existed within the park – the Hartnet Allotment in the Cathedral District and the Sandy 3 Allotment in the Waterpocket District. In early 2018, the Hartnet Allotment permit holder willingly sold their permit to a non-profit organization and thereby relinquished their rights to graze within the park, but retain the right to trail cattle.
As a result, the NPS adjusted planning efforts for the livestock grazing and trailing management plan to address long-term management and permitting of grazing on the Sandy 3 Allotment. The EA also analyzes the effects of issuing permits on eight traditional livestock trailing routes that currently cross the park and the effects of issuing two new trailing permits to the former Hartnet Allotment permittee. Under current law, grazing will continue as long as the current generation of permit holders continues to operate. Trailing livestock across the park along traditional routes will continue indefinitely.
For more information on the EA, please visit the planning page listed above or plan to attend the open house meeting.