More than half of the livestock grazing on national forests in the Pacific Northwest Region takes place on the Blue Mountains National Forests. These forests also harbor six populations of salmonids listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Forest Service scientists are examining how to achieve sustainable co-existence of livestock grazing and endangered fish.
Initial findings indicate that more flexibility in range management and grazing standards is needed to respond to variable environmental conditions on grazing allotments and the needs and practices of different permittees. There is also a need for greater involvement of permittees and other stakeholders in decisionmaking to reduce conflict and build trust. At the small scale, potential solutions include updating and revising allotment management plans in a timely way and in a manner that fully engages permittees and other stakeholders. At a broader scale, solutions call for rethinking how national forest grazing takes place – the allotment system was established decades ago, based on criteria that may no longer be appropriate. Inter-disciplinary research and experimentation can help identify solutions.
This research will help national forest managers make decisions about grazing management and standards, particularly in riparian areas, that sustain the health and productivity of federal rangelands, protect threatened and endangered fish, and support ranching livelihoods, which contribute to rural communities and conserve working landscapes.