Gifford Pinchot Task Force
917 SW Oak St., Suite 407
Portland, OR 97205
Friends of Mount Adams
PO Box 2108
White Salmon, WA 98672
January 4, 2013
Via Email to
Nancy Ryke, District Ranger
Mount Adams Ranger District
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
2455 HWY 141
Trout Lake, WA 98650
Re: Letter in response to the Decision Notice on Mount Adams Grazing Allotment.
The Mount Adams Grazing Allotment Decision Notice
The Friends of Mount Adams (FOMA) and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force (GP Task Force) are jointly writing to express our thoughts on the Decision Notice on the Mount Adams Grazing Allotment.
First, we would like to thank Mitch Wainwright, Nancy Ryke and Neil Kayser for working so diligently on the fence and monitoring issue in 2012. We also realize that with the recent fire come increased management concerns for this area, which we will address later in this letter. Second, although FOMA and GP Task Force continue to have significant concerns about the grazing situation on Mount Adams both organizations made an independent assessment of the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact on the Mount Adams Grazing Allotment Environmental Assessment (EA) and decided to not administratively appeal the decision. Instead, FOMA and the GP Task Force hope that we can jointly and constructively develop a working solution to the issues that continue to plague the Gotchen and Bird Creek Meadow complexes. Forest Supervisor Janine Clayton left a voice mail on Jurgen Hess’s phone November 1, 2012. Janine said, “Thank you for not appealing the EA decision. I want to assure you the Forest Service will be diligent about monitoring the permit and honoring the permit requirements. We want to be constructive partners.” We really appreciate Janine’s comments; they mean a lot as we move forward into implementation. We trust that the Forest Service will stand by those words and do a better job of permit administration.
Although FOMA and GPTF did not appeal the decision we still have strong concerns about the grazing situation. In the spirit of Janine’s comment to become constructive partners we are providing you with this letter to outline the most pressing of our continued concerns and also suggest some solutions that may provide not only a better working relationship to address the issues ahead of us, but also on the ground implementable solutions that both FOMA and GP Task Force are willing to partner with the Forest Service to undertake.
We continue to have grave concerns about the cattle trespass issue. As stated in our comments on the Environmental Analysis, our primary concern has always been the continued and persistent trespass issue. While we recognize that much has been done to rectify the situation we believe that more must be done. We again respectfully submit that the trespass is not authorized and should not be permitted in the meadows under any circumstances.
The Forest Service continues to rely on adherence to the Annual Operating Instructions (AOI) despite the fact that the problems of fence maintenance included in the AOI continue to persist. FOMA and GP Task Force request that the Forest Service provide a detailed plan to our organizations regarding how the AOI would be administered to ensure the fence is maintained and cattle do not trespass. We would like to see included in that plan details about field visit and monitoring requirements, what the fence structure should look like and how it should be maintained (i.e., what is the definition of “good condition”), what enforcement measures the Forest Service will pursue for failure to adhere to the AOI, and how the Forest Service will ensure compliance with the AOI. The Decision Notice states that “Forest Service personnel should inspect fencing regularly to ensure that fencing remains effective at excluding livestock form these areas.” (Decision Notice, Page 5). We would like to receive a schedule of the fence monitoring that the Forest Service proposes. We would also suggest that the Forest Service, with the significant financial challenges ahead, consider partnering with FOMA and GP Task Force to help meet the monitoring and fence maintenance requirements.
FOMA and GP Task Force have been monitoring the fence line and Gotchen Meadows area for several years to ensure compliance with the grazing requirements. In 2012, FOMA and GP Task Force volunteers monitored the Gotchen meadows and fence in the early part of the grazing season from July until September. There was also a fence line work/maintenance party on Saturday, August 11 sponsored by GP Task Force. To ensure that the requirements of the permit are being met, FOMA and the GP Task Force believe that regularly scheduled meetings prior to the grazing season and at the end of the grazing season would be beneficial for all involved to outline the expectations for monitoring, fence repair and maintenance, utilization monitoring and other issues as well as discuss year end results. Having scheduled yearly meetings could help reduce conflict among the groups and develop workable on the ground solutions to prevent cattle from trespassing into Gotchen Meadows. FOMA and GP Task Force would like to suggest holding a meeting in March of 2013 with all necessary parties to outline the 2013 grazing season and to talk about ways to ensure compliance with the permit requirements. We would also like to have a meeting scheduled for the end of the grazing season in October of 2013 to discuss what worked and what can be improved the next season.
At the annual meeting (first one March 2013) FOMA and GP Task Force would also like to suggest developing a schedule to site visit the fence line together with the Forest Service and permittee approximately three times during the season. We would also talk about expectations for the upcoming year, set-up dates to install the utilization exclusion fences, with the objective to ensure that the fence remains in good condition.
FOMA and GP Task Force also believe that the wetland meadow complex known as the Gotchen and Bird Creek meadows is a unique area that represents a diverse array of populations of plants and wildlife. We were disappointed that the Forest Service heavily relied on a single one-day ecology team study on only two meadows in the Gotchen Meadow complex to conclude that there was little affect from the trespass. FOMA and GP Task Force submit that a scientifically reliable and comprehensive study of the Gotchen Meadow complex is needed to establish a baseline from which to measure impact and to begin the restoration of this unique area.
FOMA and GP Task Force would like to work with the Forest Service to develop a more complete resource analysis of the entire Gotchen Meadows area. FOMA and GP Task Force are especially interested in studying what we believe is the most highly sensitive meadow-meadow 1B on the FOMA map.
2012 Season Monitoring and Cascade Creek Fire
Because of the Cascade Creek fire, which started the evening of September 8, the Forest Service closed the area to entry September 14. The closure ended our monitoring. It is our understanding that Neil Kayser removed his cows from the allotment area because of the fire hazards. So the 2012 season was unusual in that grazing and monitoring ended prematurely. We are concerned about how grazing may impact the newly burned Cascade Creek fire areas. The Decision Notice issued on the Mount Adams Grazing Environmental Assessment was prior to the fire and contains specific recommendations on the previous Cold Springs fire including recommendations to “minimize grazing within the Cold Springs Fire through proper placement of salt until the area has sufficiently recovered to withstand light grazing use.” Will there be similar recommendations for the area affected by the Cascade Creek fire? If so, will those recommendations be handled in the AOI for 2013 operating season?
Again, we want to thank you for your continued monitoring of this issue and hope that FOMA, the GP Task Force, and the Forest Service will work cooperatively together to resolve the trespass issue and protect the Gotchen and Bird Creek Meadow complex.
/s/ Jessica Schafer,
Gifford Pinchot Task Force
/s/ Jurgen A. Hess
Jurgen A. Hess, Chair
Friends of Mount Adams
Cc Janine Clayton