Putting ‘watchable wildlife’ ahead of food

Let’s face it, American people. Our nation is in decline! We keep biting the hand that feeds us. The number of clueless people who refer to hard-working, can-do people as welfare ranchers is disgusting. Dramatic reductions in public-land grazing in the American West have put our nation’s food security at risk.

The United States Forest Service allowed a meager 30-day public comment period for the 279-page Draft Environmental Assessment and Bighorn Risk Assessment for the Weminuche Landscape Grazing Analysis that ended June 16. It proposes to close seven vacant domestic sheep grazing allotments and applies a sunset clause to the remaining five active allotments in the Weminuche Wilderness. Ultimately, domestic-sheep grazing will end.

The analysis recognizes that domestic sheep grazing has not caused negative impacts to vegetative conditions and wilderness characteristics. It states that recreation users complain about guard dogs and the sight and smell of sheep. It is false to say the demand for lamb meat and wool is declining when, globally, we need to produce more food in the next 30 years than the total sum of all food produced by mankind thus far.

The elephant in the room is the expectation that domestic sheep may transmit disease to wild Bighorn sheep. The preferred alternative of the USFS lacks optimism that modern science will develop a vaccine that can be administered to domestic sheep that will eliminate the problem. Wildlife managers will be happy to have exclusive use of 166,700 acres, so today’s three Bighorn herds totaling 460 sheep may increase to 2,968. Meanwhile, for most Americans, a good lamb chop or a new wool shirt is out of reach because it’s too expensive.

We are hypocrites about being green. How green are we when food products we can produce at home must be shipped from Australia instead? It’s very green, and we are much more secure to have the capability to trail livestock from nearby high country pastures that can be food and clothing for local people. The USFS prefers to shove watchable wildlife down our throats instead.

Sandy Young

Durango

Editor’s note: The Forest Service said Thursday that it is offering a second 30-day comment period on Weminuche grazing analysis.

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