Shoshone National Forest might ask for voluntary reductions in grazing allotment use

Shoshone National Forest Rangers Rick Metzger, front left, and Steve Schacht met with the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – Shoshone National Forest district rangers warned the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday they might be asking range allotment lessees for voluntary reductions in grazing or nonuse.

Washakie District Ranger Steve Schacht, of the area of the forest near Lander, made the statement to commissioners during a general national forest update.

The reason the forest might be making the request to grazing allotment holders is due to this year’s lack of moisture.

“It’s pretty bad, but stay tuned,” Schacht said, noting that the forest might not have to make the request if significant moisture is added through the winter. “Lets hope for some better conditions.”

“This year’s growth was 25 percent of normal,” he continued. “A lot of the allotments were pushed right to the edge.”

Wind River District Ranger Rick Metzger, of the area of the forest around Dubois, said he could be looking at similar requests for reductions. However, he noted his district was “not as dry” as the Washakie District.

Commission Chairman Doug Thompson asked how much of the two districts were divided into allotments. Schacht said 30 to 40 percent of the Washakie District has allotments. Metzger said about half of the Wind River District has allotments.

Commission Vice Chairman Pat Hickerson urged the rangers to give the allotment holders a warning before the official request goes out. He also suggested getting the Wyoming Game & Fish Department to “put pressure” on its herds in order to “share the pain a little bit.”

Other forest updates:

-Schacht informed the commission of the closing of the Loop Road at Worthen Meadows. He said there was some snow in the Blue Ridge area, and the closure was done to prevent people from getting their vehicles stuck. He wasn’t sure when the switchbacks in Sinks Canyon would be closed. Thompson asked Schacht to coordinate with the county’s Transportation Department when it plans on shutting down the rest of the road.

-Both rangers discussed timber sales and fuel reduction projects. Hickerson lobbied for the forest to not put a limit on the number of cords an individual can cut when there is a large number of dead trees that need to go. Schacht said doing so would give people potential to go commercial. Hickerson said the fire risk should trump the law enforcement.

-Deals are in the works to put toilets at the Brooks Lake parking area, Frye Lake and Horse Creek.