Cape Horn Allotment (Grazing Agreement completed December 2016)
Type of Livestock: Domestic Sheep
Type of Conflict: Bighorn Sheep disease risk
Size of Allotment: 86,000 acres
Location of Allotment: Central Idaho
The Cape Horn allotment spans over 85,000 acres and includes critically important spawning habitat for steelhead, threatened Chinook salmon, and bull trout. The producer grazing his sheep on Cape Horn had repeatedly been cited for trailing his sheep through critical spawning habitat and trampling Chinook salmon redds. The Chinook that spawn in Knapp Creek, Marsh Creek, Valley Creek, Beaver Creek, and Swamp Creek, within the Cape Horn allotment boundaries, represent one of the last remaining wild Chinook populations that has not been genetically influenced by hatchery fish.
In addition, the domestic sheep grazed on this high elevation allotment during the summer months threaten the health of nearby bighorn sheep populations. Pneumonia passed from domestic to bighorn sheep often results in large-scale die-offs that can affect entire populations.
Billy Creek Habitat Management Unit (Grazing Agreement completed January 2015)
Type of Livestock: Cattle
Type of Conflict: Numerous Prairie Wildlife Species (including sage grouse, sharptail grouse, mule deer, elk, and pronghorn)
Size of Total Allotments: 11,000 acres
Location of Allotment: Northeast Montana on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
The Billy Creek area is characterized as largely roadless, with rugged breaks and tremendous wildlife values. Sage grouse, sharptail grouse, mule deer, elk, and pronghorn are present in the area. Cattle grazing has a long history on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) and the National Wildlife Federation has been involved in reducing the negative effects of grazing on the refuge since the mid-80s. Refuge-wide, the National Wildlife Federation has successfully worked to reduce AUMs from over 60,000 AUMs in the 1970s to around 20,000 AUMs today, increasing productivity for a host of native flora and fauna.
The Billy Creek Habitat Management Unit (HMU) is located on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Garfield County. The National Wildlife Federation had been engaged in discussions with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for several years about the possibility of retiring the Billy Creek HMU as part of a larger private land inholding purchase within the refuge. The landowner was reticent to sell his inholding of 640 acres to the FWS at market value—the National Wildlife Federation was able to help tip the scales of the total purchase price by offering to retire his FWS grazing allotment and re-assign the state leases to the FWS (which they will in turn pay the state for non-use). Re-assigning state leases in this manner hasn’t been done before on National Wildlife Refuges and should set a valuable precedent.
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