BLM releases final EIS for domestic sheep grazing permit renewals in Gunnison, Hinsdale, and Ouray counties
Gunnison, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Gunnison Field Office has released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for domestic sheep grazing permit renewals in Gunnison, Hinsdale and Ouray counties. The BLM analyzed the effects of domestic sheep and goat grazing in nine domestic sheep grazing allotments on 65,710 acres of public land.
The preferred alternative authorizes domestic sheep and goat grazing in pastures outside of the summer range for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep to reduce contact between domestic sheep and goats and wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Contact with domestic sheep can pose a health risk to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. New terms and conditions would be implemented on grazing permits to further reduce risk of contact between domestic sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, as well as minimize impacts to other resources.
“We are happy to announce that the final EIS was completed with robust public involvement, which was critical in obtaining the most accurate data and information for the analysis,” said Rocky Mountain District Manager Cathy Cook. "This is an important effort for maintaining domestic sheep grazing on public land.”
The final EIS analyzed the potential for disease transmission from domestic sheep to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep under five alternative management strategies. Threatened and endangered plant and animal species, local and regional socioeconomics, cultural resources, Native American religious concerns and public land health were also addressed in the analysis.
The final EIS is available online for a 30-day public review through February 10 before a proposed decision is signed, followed by a 15-day protest period, and a 30-day appeal period for the final decision. The final EIS, supporting documents, and maps are available on BLM’s ePlanning site at https://go.usa.gov/xQTyQ.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.