The BLM is proposing to spend $1 million building 100 miles of fences in one of America’s largest fence-free ranges in Wyoming’s Green Mountain Common Allotment. This area has the potential to host abundant diverse wildlife – but has been pounded by livestock for so long that the BLM seeks to fence it down into 6 allotments.
Mitigation measures like fences or water-developments are frequently prescribed by public-land managers when public lands are so punished by livestock that it becomes embarassingly obvious that something needs to be done. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of evidence that building fences and dispersing livestock with water developments does much more than displace the abuse sustained by too many livestock on wildlife habitat in arid and semi-arid landscapes that haven’t evolved to sustain the utilization – there’s just not enough precipitation.
In fact, fences and water developments cause damage of their own, including inhibiting wildlife movement and migration, fragmenting wildlife habitat, killing imperiled species such as sage grouse (who fly into the wire) and de-watering natural springs and seeps that provide critical water and habitat for diverse wildlife.
Solution : Reduce or remove entirely livestock from those public lands that display signs of unacceptable degradation. Save millions in public dollars, give the land a chance to rest and heal such that it and the wildlife communities that depend on its vigor have a fighting chance to hold out against impending climate change.