Elk Feedground Permit upheld on Bridger-Teton
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
October 25, 2008
The Forest Service announced Friday its decision to uphold authorization of National Forest Land to be used for winter elk management activities by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
Regional Forester Harv Forsgren upheld the decision made by Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor, after reviewing two appeals received on the issue.
Five environmental groups filed appeals on the Long Term Special Use Permit for elk feeding, which was authorized by Hamilton on July 15, 2008. The appellants requested that her decision be remanded for failure to comply with mandated statutes.
The Forest completed an Environmental Impact Statement to study WGFC’s proposal to conduct elk feeding activities and other elk management on seven specific locations on the National Forest. The decision is to issue a 20 year special use authorization at five of the seven locations. The decision did not include two of the feedground areas because further information is required.
Review of the appeals found that the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision adequately address and refute the appellants’ rationale for reversing the decision. The Forest conducted scoping and published the Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register on July 23, 2007. The Forest also mailed a letter describing the proposed actions and requesting comments on August 8, 2007. Public meetings were held in Jackson and Pinedale as well.
The decision to authorize elk feeding is not a new activity on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Supplemental feeding of elk has beenconducted in northwestern Wyoming since the early 1900s. It began as a response to large-scale winter die-offs. Many other feedgrounds were established in the 1940s and 1950s to prevent elk from entering private lands and damaging stored crops.
The WGFC’s elk feeding activities occur during the winter months at 21 feedgrounds and one staging area. Only eight of the 21 feedgrounds are located on National Forest System lands.