My grandfather began homesteading his ranch on the Green River, southwest of Pinedale, in 1907. I live and work on this ranch today. In 1906 the U.S. Forest Service issued grazing permits to ranchers who had grazed forest lands, and several years later it asked grazing permit holders to form associations to help the Forest Service better manage these lands.

In 1916 the Upper Green River Cattle Association formed to provide more cohesive management of the Upper Green River Cattle Allotment. My family and other members of the association have grazed this allotment responsibly for over 115 years.

Mr. Wuerthner states, “The Upper Green River allotment contains the most superlative wildlife habitat in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem ... The Upper Green is a pronghorn migration corridor, a calving area and winter range for elk, sage grouse habitat, and home to the Kendall Spring Dace, an endangered species, and Colorado cutthroat trout, a species of concern, not to mention lynx, wolverine, Columbia spotted frog, boreal toad, and other species of special concern.”

Mr. Wuerthner is correct on this point. In fact, the Upper Green harbors most or all of the hallmark wildlife species that grace Wyoming’s national forests. The Upper Green River Cattle Allotment contains great plant and animal diversity, yet has been grazed by cattle for over 115 years.

The abundance and variety of wildlife in the Upper Green are clear indicators, maybe the best indicators, that the land is in good condition, with the capacity to carry livestock as well as wildlife, something the Forest Service recognized in its record of decision on the Upper Green River Area Rangleland Project.

In areas where cattle and grizzlies coexist there will be conflict. The grizzly bear is an apex predator and eats red meat. Grizzly bears that become chronic depredators of livestock are often removed from the population. Management of grizzlies has occurred for 20 years on this allotment, and the population and range of grizzlies in the Upper Green and ecosystem-wide have continued to increase.

I think we should celebrate our successes, but continue to improve going forward. In 1996 our association worked with the Forest Service and the University of Wyoming to develop goals and objectives on the Upper Green River Cattle Allotment while developing a rangeland monitoring program. We now have over 20 years of data and cooperation between the association, the Forest Service, the University of Wyoming and the Sublette County Conservation District.

Federal grazing allotments are essential to the livestock economy of western Wyoming, and private ranches are essential for preservation of the wildlife and the open space we love.

Albert Sommers is president of the Upper Green River Cattle Association. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

(1) comment

Ken Chison

Well put Mr. Sommers. I always enjoy reading comments from individuals that have first hand knowledge of a matter, rather than someone not familiar who think they know best. I have recreated in this country for over 3 decades and have yet to find signs of overgrazing, squashed toads or negligent stewardship. Your family, as well as all other permit holders, should be commended for the practice's and policies that have improved many aspects of the Upper Green. The uninformed never realize the hardships inflicted upon lease holders from reintroduced predators and apex predators, whose numbers have increased so steadily, that they no longer have room to expand. I wish more people had an appreciation for that package of burger they pick up at the local store.

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.