The West Fork Black’s Fork allotment covers approximately 16,000 acres in the Uinta Wilderness. A century of domestic sheep grazing has denuded uplands, caused extreme flooding and consequent accelerated stream erosion and sediment deposition, harming habitat for Colorado cutthroat trout. The alpine basins are stripped of their vegetation annually which leads to these extremely high flows. Thousands of domestic sheep are grazed here and additional bands are trailed through every year, grazing as they travel up and down the watershed and then over extremely steep, highly erodible slopes which they denude and which results in accelerated erosion. An example of the erosion is shown in the photo of Lake EJOD, which is rapidly filling with sediment from the adjacent grazed and denuded uplands. The Forest Service has taken ten years to make its decision to continue sheep grazing and trailing in spite of this damage and conflicts with habitat for Canada lynx, bighorn sheep and other wildlife. Hiking up this watershed is like living in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, where there is an absence of wildlife, when compared to the ungrazed watersheds in the same mountain range, where wildlife and fish are thriving. WWP and its partners have appealed the recent decision. The appeal and our 2006 report on conditions with numerous photos of conditions and comparisons to ungrazed areas can be downloaded from the links provided.
View West Fork Black’s Fork Allotment in a larger map
Western Watersheds Project documents how sheep degrade High Uintas Wilderness – Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News