On January 17, 2014, the Forest Service released the revised Land Management Plan for the Shoshone National Forest. The plan and other plan documents are available here. Significantly, the revised plan eliminates goatpacking as a recreation option on the Shoshone National Forest based on the Forest Service’s concern over disease transmission from pack goats to bighorn sheep. Such decision is devastating to the North American Packgoat Association (NAPgA) and its members, as it closes one of the premier goatpacking areas in the country and sets a bad precedent for other forests to follow in managing goatpacking. NAPgA is challenging the Forest Service’s decision through the Forest Service’s pre-decisional administrative review process.
Review of the Draft Record of Decision (Draft ROD) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) supporting the revised plan provides little information on the risk of disease transmission from pack goats to bighorn sheep. In fact, there has never been a documented case of disease transmission from a pack goat to a bighorn sheep on the Shoshone National Forest or anywhere else. And, bighorn sheep populations on the Shoshone National Forest have been steady and habitat remains abundant. Despite these facts and according to a partisan advisory committee assembled by the Forest Service, there remains a significant risk that pack goats may carry disease-causing bacteria that could be transmitted to bighorn sheep on the Shoshone National Forest. NAPgA disagrees.
NAPgA is objecting to the Forest Service’s decision to eliminate goatpacking on the Shoshone National Forest on the basis that the partisan advisory committee assembled by the Forest Service violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and that the Draft ROD and FEIS were prepared in violation of the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NAPgA believes that the facts and science cited by the Forest Service do not support a decision to eliminate goatpacking. As a result, NAPgA is asking the Forest Service to revise its Draft ROD, FEIS and revised plan to comply with FACA and NEPA, and to restore goatpacking as recreation option on the Shoshone National Forest.
A copy of NAPgA’s objections to the Shoshone Land Management Plan Draft Decision is available here.