The Draft Management Plan and EIS for Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a huge disappointment. The EIS, jointly prepared by BLM and the National Park Service, fails to take actions necessary to protect the vanishing Craters sagebrush ecosystem and its plummeting sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and migratory songbird populations. 30% of the BLM-managed lands (these are the lands that are grazed by livestock - NPS manages the ungrazed lava) are in such poor condition that BLM proposes massive "treatments".
Instead of analyzing alternatives that change cattle and sheep grazing disturbance, a primary cause of the weed infestations and altered fire cycles that plague the Monument, all four agency alternatives keep livestock grazing constant, and make no significant changes in grazing at all. Plus, the Preferred Alternative not only keeps all existing roads, trails and two tracks Open, it allows upgrading of many roads currently in "primitive" zones.
The Preferred Alternative is misleadingly dubbed a "restoration" alternative by the agencies. It promotes aggressive herbicide, mechanical and fire treatments and seedings without any requirement to address the root causes of ecosystem problems - grazing and roads. There is not even a requirement to seed native plant species following a treatment! Plus, the Preferred Alternative rejects designation of an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Laidlaw Park. An ACEC designation would help protect one of the last remaining better condition sagebrush communities on the entire Snake River Plain.
Please send in comments by July 29, 2004. Comments can be e-mailed to any of the following:
Or by surface mail to:
Craters of the Moon National Monument Planning Team
BLM Shoshone Field Office
400 West F Street
Shoshone, ID 83352-1522
Please tell BLM and the NPS to:
*** Prepare a Supplemental EIS. This EIS must examine a broad range of alternatives including changes and reductions in livestock use necessary to limit weed spread, protect remaining sagebrush communities and wildlife habitat, and allow real restoration of tens of thousands of acres of cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass wastelands that currently exist inside the Monument.
*** Conduct a science-based assessment of the suitability of these lands for grazing.
*** Designate an ACEC in Laidlaw Park that encompasses all remaining sagebrush communities.
*** Close unnecessary roads, and limit road upgrading. A huge network of unplanned roads currently exists. Many of these roads are the result of livestock grazing activities and livestock facilities. The Preferred Alternative road upgrades would place areas near upgraded roads in a less protective "passage" category, thus allowing expanded livestock water developments. Existing water developments in Craters are not only epicenters of weed infestation and spread, the troughs have been documented to drown migratory birds, mammals including antelope and even prairie falcons.
*** Conduct real restoration, relying on passive restoration techniques wherever possible (limit livestock grazing, close roads, remove livestock facilities that are causing weed spread).
*** Use only native plants in all seedings.
For more information please contact WWP's Biodiversity Director Katie Fite: email@example.com; or 208-429-1679.