Judge Agrees with Forest Service and USFWS About Green River Drift Trail

And Wyofile gets the trifecta for stories today, although I’m not a fan of the headline.

Judge tosses protest of grazing plan that threatens 72 grizzlies

I think, so far as I can tell, that the judge determined the grazing plan actually didn’t threaten them.  Seems like a critical distinction to me.  What interests me about these conflicts is that grizzlies are expanding their numbers and range, so it seems like it would be hard to argue that continuing the same kind of management is bad for them. But maybe not.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal decided May 16 that officials with the Bridger-Teton National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service followed federal environmental laws when approving the grazing plan for 8,772 cow-calf pairs and yearlings and 47 horses. Grazing on 170,643 acres at the upper end of the Green River Drift trail is unlikely to jeopardize Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzlies or the Kendall Warm Springs dace — species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act — the judge ruled.

Federal and state wildlife managers removed 35 grizzlies from the grazing allotments from 2010 to 2018 for depredating on cattle but that pace could be accelerated “in light of increased conflicts due to a growing grizzly population within the project area,” the judge’s order states. Even though grizzlies are still protected by the ESA, their comeback from the brink of extirpation has met recovery criteria since 2004, the decision states.

“This could have a beneficial effect on the [Kendall Warm Springs] dace habitat.”


Because of ecosystem-wide monitoring, management and limits on bear killings, the judge agreed with federal scientists that “the level of projected mortality caused by the project will not appreciably reduce the population, distribution, or reproduction of GYE grizzlies.”

Likewise, the cattle grazing at the north end of the Wind River Range in Sublette County likely won’t affect the continued existence of the dace, a species of small fish found only in 328 yards of the Kendall Warm Springs and its outflow to the Green River. Freudenthal agreed with scientists who said that driving cattle across the spring and its channel “could actually result in beneficial effects to the dace.”

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