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October 23, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
6500 (220/230) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2010-011
Expires: 09/30/2011

To:                   All Field Officials (except Idaho State Office)

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Information Request for GIS Data on Domestic Sheep and Goats                                                                                                                                     DD: 11/20/09

Program Area: Rangeland Resources (1020) and Wildlife (1110).                       

Purpose:  As part of a multi-agency effort the BLM is collecting data on the authorized grazing locations of domestic sheep and goats on public lands to determine the location and likelihood of contact between domestic sheep or goats and wild sheep. This data will be used to develop a GIS decision support  tool, which will help the BLM to identify areas where the potential contact between domestic sheep or goats and wild sheep can be anticipated and where management steps are needed to minimize the risk of contact.

Policy/Action:  To obtain GIS data on where domestic sheep or goats can or do occur on public lands, Field Office staff must review the currently available data and, where necessary make any adjustments or corrections.  The spreadsheets attached to this Instruction Memorandum contain information from the Rangeland Administration System (RAS) for three categories of authorized uses:  1) goat and/or sheep use identified on grazing permits or leases, 2) special use authorizations for grazing permittees/lessees, and 3) special use authorizations for non-BLM permittees/lessees. This information is typically reported at the allotment level, although some pasture-specific use is shown. Where the presence or distribution of domestic sheep and goats is known to be confined to a scale smaller than the allotment and that information is not reported on the spreadsheets, the Field Offices are asked to provide that information. For example, you should identify any restrictions to specific pasture(s) or geographic area(s) documented in grazing decisions, Allotment Management Plans (AMP), or other functional equivalent.  Restrictions related to informal agreements that cannot be enforced by the authorized officer should not be reported.

Field Offices are asked to provide the following information using standards and formats described in attachments:

  1. After reviewing the attached spreadsheets depicting domestic sheep and goat use at the allotment level, and in some cases pasture level, determine whether or not the information provided accurately portray where and when domestic sheep or goat use occurs.  If the pasture is not in a GIS format, or if the sheep are restricted to a geographic area that was not mapped previously, you will need to work with your GIS coordinator to identify and digitize the boundaries of the area.
  2. If domestic sheep and goat use does not occur throughout the entire allotment (restricted to certain pastures or confined to certain portions of an allotment in compliance with stipulations on a permit, an allotment management plan or a similar document that prescribes a grazing system or pattern) and depicting the use at that smaller scale would result in a more accurate representation of domestic sheep and goat use of an allotment, please provide that information at the appropriate scale. To clarify, this request is not asking for information on where sheep or goats have historically grazed within an allotment. If the grazing permit allows sheep or goat use in the entire allotment, or if sheep or goats are restricted to certain areas but trailing occurs in the remainder of the allotment, the entire allotment is shown as having the potential for sheep or goat use. The Field Offices are asked to identify situations where sheep or goats are specifically restricted or confined to certain pastures, or other geographic areas based on compliance with an activity plan or terms and conditions of a permit. If the pasture location is already identified in a GIS format, this will require very little additional work to capture the information. 
  3. Authorized trailing or free use for goats and sheep (based on RAS billing information) is shown for both BLM and non-BLM livestock operators.  Free use is any authorized grazing use on the public lands where the livestock operator is not required to pay a fee.  This includes subsistence use, use to control noxious/invasive weeds, use to control fuels treatments, etc.  Although there is no fee for free grazing use, the authorizing document is a RAS grazing bill.  Authorized trailing and free use are not necessarily renewed as a preference type use (permits/leases), but trailing is often part of the normal annual grazing operation and there may be an ongoing treatment that may take numerous years to complete.  Review the attached RAS data to ensure any on-going trailing and free use is identified and noted on the spreadsheets. If the trailing or free use occurs on an allotment where sheep or goat grazing is authorized for all pastures, the trailing or free use does not need to be reported.  
  4. Information not associated with grazing permits is also needed. Gathering the information may require coordination with staff responsible for fuels treatments, invasive species or recreation. However, individuals are not asked to spend time investigating or researching these situations, but only use personal knowledge or readily available information. 
a.       Areas where domestic sheep or goat grazing or trailing occurs adjacent to but is not permitted on public lands (In particular, identify areas where there is a significant potential for sheep or goats to enter public land, and therefore present a potential risk.)

b.      Areas where domestic sheep or goats will be used for vegetation or fuels treatments.

c.       Areas where domestic goats are known to be used as recreational pack animals on or adjacent to public lands.

Data should be reviewed and/or developed in coordination with Field Office GIS specialists, rangeland resource specialists, and wildlife biologists and submitted to State Office GIS specialists for consolidation and finally sent to John Courtright, GIS Analyst, at the Idaho State Office for BLM-wide consolidation. John Courtright can be reached at 208-373-3966 with questions regarding development of the GIS data. 

Timeframe: Responses are requested by the close of business November 16, 2009.

Budget Impact: Minimal impact.

Background: The BLM is in the process of revising policy for management of domestic sheep and goats in wild sheep habitat. This policy and its application will be supported by the development of a GIS decision support tool depicting areas where contact may occur between domestic sheep and goats and wild sheep.  

Manual/Handbook affected: None.

Coordination: Rangeland Resources (WO220) and Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (WO230).

 Contact: Questions should be referred to Doug Powell, Rangeland Management Specialist, at 202-912-7209 or Amy Krause, Wildlife Biologist, at 202-912-7236

Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                          Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                           Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning


Last updated: 11-04-2009