Preserve invites comments on grazing plans

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By Roger Snodgrass

Officials of the Valles Caldera National Preserve released their planning document for continued livestock grazing, a subject that has absorbed a great deal of attention during the first seven years of the organization’s existence.


More precisely, the proposed environmental assessment for “Multiple Use and Sustained Yield of Forage,” identifies key issues and weighs the pluses and minuses for various intensities of livestock grazing.


As a bottom line, it seeks to rationalize a plan “to continue programs for domestic livestock grazing” based on allocating about 40 percent of available forage for domestic livestock grazing and other purposes, depending on range conditions and the forage needs of the preserve’s substantial elk herd.


The report offers much evaluation of the trade-offs and side effects of four alternatives, all of which assume some level of livestock grazing.


At the lower end of the spectrum, only 5 percent of the available forage would be allotted to domestic livestock; at the upper end, as much as 15-20 percent.


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