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Spatial Analysis of Livestock Grazing and Forest Service Management in the High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

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Document pages: 25 pages

Abstract: This case study addresses the Forest Service reauthorization for grazing of domestic sheep in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, USA. It provides an approach using spatial analysis and aerial imagery to evaluate the lands capable of being grazed based on Forest Service criteria and field surveys. The resulting model and analysis demonstrated that the Forest Service has not applied its own criteria. This has led to the Forest Service overestimating the amount of land and numbers of sheep that can be supported in the study area. Past field studies show this has resulted in environmental damage by grazing sheep. Our analysis concludes that the numbers of domestic sheep should be greatly reduced to protect these lands and wilderness values. Limitations of the study include the lack of a suitably detailed soil survey to determine erosion susceptibility, a lack of ground cover data, a lack of Forest Service data for the level of grazing use, or utilization, and the lack of a Forest Service quantitative measurement of vegetation production in each plant community and soil type. In the end, our use of aerial imagery, GIS determinations of areas of steep slopes and dense forests, and our measurement of vegetation production in the dominant soil types showed most of the land is not capable for grazing domestic sheep even in the absence of this other data.

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