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.