EPA Supports Bighorn Forest Plan for Aerial Herbicide Spraying | Open spaces
“[I]It is not clear from the draft EIA whether the maximum treatment of 15,000 acres of mountain sagebrush over two years will quickly meet the desired project conditions or whether the target is 76,500 acres (5,100 acres per year for 15 years), ”Strobel wrote.
Likewise, the forest’s description of the total treatment area for all vegetation types could be interpreted broadly, the EPA said. “[I]t is never clearly identified if 79 650 [acres] or 375,000 acres of treated vegetation is the goal, ”the letter said.
National forest officials should also map locations where herbicides need to be sprayed and vegetation would otherwise be killed. “We recommend that the USFS include water bodies, wetlands, and other sensitive areas on maps near processing areas,” Strobel wrote.
Finally, the Forest Service should consider changing the national cattle grazing methods as part of its strategy, the EPA said.
“[T]The draft EIA does not address additional changes to livestock grazing protocols in the BNF that could be incorporated to avoid disruption or restoration of the natural vegetation regime with minimal mechanical, chemical or biological interventions ” , wrote Strobel. “We recommend that the final EIA assess whether there are any additional modifications or best practices BNF can adopt for cattle grazing to reduce the overall need for human interventions in the management of mountain sagebrush in the over the next 15 years. “