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Martin Basin Rangeland decision released: Forest Service continuing to promote healthy working landscapes

By ThisIsReno

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

SPARKS, Nev. — Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Ed Monnig released the Santa Rosa Ranger District’s Martin Basin Rangeland Project Record of Decision (ROD) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that address the effects of reauthorizing livestock grazing on 190,000 acres of eight existing cattle and horse allotments in northeast Nevada.   Grazing will continue under this decision; the premise is that the healthier the ecological condition of the allotment, the greater the amount of forage that the livestock will be allowed to use.

“The Forest Service has a rich history of managing livestock grazing use in combination with other uses of the nation’s National Forests, and will continue to do so under today’s Martin Basin Rangeland decision,” said Monnig.  “We are using a balanced approach – an approach that recognizes the permittees’ needs, along with the needs of sustaining healthy working landscapes,” said Monnig.

In the FEIS, six issues were analyzed in detail, water quality, soil quality, fisheries and wildlife, vegetation, and socio-economic values for three alternatives.  The ROD documents Monnig’s selection of Alternative 2 from the FEIS.  The selected alternative is designed to view the rangeland resource as a whole, and protect the natural resources and fish and wildlife habitat of the Forest, while providing a sustainable rangeland resource for domestic livestock grazing.  The selected alternative establishes proper use criteria (for this project, end of season utilization levels) for habitat groups based on three possible ecologic conditions (functioning, functioning-at-risk, and non-functioning).

“Historically, we have predominantly based our grazing management upon trend,” said Monnig.  “We also, however, need to base our management on current ecological condition today to maximize our chances of providing sustainable rangelands for tomorrow,” stated Monnig.

Monnig said that the FEIS and ROD placed additional emphasis upon the effects of grazing on soils and vegetation.  “Our District Rangers continue to express their concerns that our soils are not in the best shape; adjusting utilization, the amount of forage that livestock consume during the grazing season and adjusting the grazing season, will hopefully lead to improvement in the overall soil condition across the Forest.”

Monnig appreciated the public’s review of the Draft EIS.  He acknowledged that the 12 comments received further improved the FEIS by adding information that demonstrates how the alternatives conform to the guidance in the Forest Plan.

The FEIS is available on the web at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/htnf/projects/, or via CD or hard copy by request by contacting Vernon Keller, Range NEPA Coordinator, at 775-355-5356.  Learn more about this release by contacting Forest Supervisor Ed Monnig at 775-355-5304, or Santa Rosa District Ranger Jeff Ulrich at 775-443-6999.

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