HUPC Home Page Fare Thee Well! HUPC
Issue Updates
About the Uintas
We Are HUPC Our Reflections What You Can Do Join HUPC HUPC Archives

West Fork Blacks Fork Allotment Scoping document. Your WILD VOICE needs to sing by APRIL 18!

The Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Evanston Ranger District, has again released a scoping document (the first step in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)) to continue grazing on the West Fork Blacks Fork (WFBF) allotment within the High Uintas Wilderness.

Comments on this scoping document are due April 18 and should be sent to:
Steve Ryberg
Evanston/Mt. View District Ranger
Wasatch-Cache National Forest
PO Box 1880
Evanston, WY 82931-1880

If you choose to email your comments email them to:
Steve Ryberg, and copy to Larry Johnson, and insist on a return receipt. Be very clear these are formal scoping comments for the West Fork Blacks Fork Allotment Scoping Document.

The PROPOSAL by the Forest Service is to continue grazing on the West Fork Blacks Fork drainage, one of the most stunning on the North Slope of the Uintas, with 1,075 mother sheep (does not count lambs). The proposal calls for continued sheep grazing on the high alpine benches around Dead Horse Lake with half of the alpine area rested for two years and then grazed again.

The ISSUES have been around for a long time. The Forest Service, in fact, released a Environmental Assessment back in 1999 and then pulled it before implementation. The Forest Service has finally decided to pursue the issue with a full scale Environmental Impact Statement. The Forest Service has identified 3 alternatives, no grazing, no grazing in the alpine landscape, and the proposed action (described above). The issues identified by the Forest Service deal w. alpine vegetation, wildlife impacts, recreational experiences and the local economy.

The GOOD STUFF with the proposal is:

  1. A full scale Environmental Impact Statement will be completed. The irony, of course, is this is what we called for in 1999! The Forest Service has identified broader issues and alternatives than last time around.

The PROBLEMS with the proposal are many and deep:

  1. The Evanston Ranger District (ERD) has made it clear it is starting over because they believe the alpine vegetation can support grazing, that sheep grazing should continue, that local concerns are simply more important than broader public and ecological concerns, and that the issue is of importance only to local sheep permittees.


The scoping document identifies most of the primary issues, but it is important that other issues be considered and your voice heard:

  1. Riparian conditions must be considered, including stream bank stability, soil compaction, an appropriate array of native plant species, and the impacts of grazing on water quality and native fisheries. Vegetation should be managed within a properly functioning condition and moving toward climax and good/excellent range condition.
  2. Impacts upon all wildlife species, including small mammals and the large, such as bighorn sheep, must be considered.
  3. The scoping document sees the WFBF as a sheep pasture for rural lifestyles rather than a functioning ecosystem with integral and inherent values independent of "sheep months" of use. Economic, social and quality of life values are also placed on wild, ungrazed ecosystems. These concerns must be evaluated, not denigrated.
  4. The scoping document didn't even mention monitoring of grazing impacts. Earlier Forest Service document noted most of the area will take up to 40 years to meet Forest Service environmental standards for alpine ecosystems!

A SAMPLE LETTER is pasted below. Use as you would like to get you started or simply submit with your name. IF YOU KNOW THE WFBF, SPEAK WITH FAMILIARITY FROM YOUR WILD HEART! The important point is to write--your wild voice is important and will be the only way we can establish a foundation to make this proposal ecologically meaningful.


Steve Ryberg
District Ranger
Evanston/Mt. View Ranger Districts
Wasatch-Cache National Forest
PO Box 1880
Evanston, WY 82931

Dear Mr. Ryberg:

Please accept these comments on the scoping document for the West Fork Blacks Fork Grazing EIS.

Your decision to prepare an EIS for the West Fork Black Fork grazing allotment is commendable.

While we strongly support including a no grazing alternative for the alpine benches at the head of the drainage around Dead Horse Lake, it still seems the best course of action is to begin to phase out grazing from this drainage over the next decade.

The only way to assure healthy bighorn sheep populations (an issue that needs to be considered), riparian areas, provide clean water and healthy soils would be, over the next decade, to phase out grazing. We also urge you to incorporate strong monitoring standards that have to be met within the next 5 years for the fragile alpine vegetation.

The West Fork Blacks Fork represents a quality of life, social and economic value, issues needing analysis, beyond just a pasture for local permittees. The area harbors important ecological and wild values that need to be considered.

Thanks very much. Please keep us updated.

HUPC Home Page Our Reflections HUPC
Issue Updates
About the Uintas and Lakes Roadless Area
We Are HUPC Fare Thee Well! What You Can Do Join HUPC HUPC Archives