The USDA recently announced that it intends to close the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, a rugged research site west of Yellowstone National Park. The station should be closed because it is an economic liability for the federal agency that runs it, and it impacts an important wildlife corridor in the Centennial Mountains of Idaho and Montana.
Special interest livestock groups are opposing the closure, but many Americans see this as a fantastic opportunity to preserve the lands for the grizzlies, wolves, bighorn sheep, sage-grouse and pygmy rabbits that call this place home.
Not only should the research station be closed, but the lands should be transferred to the management of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and all grazing should be discontinued on the new parcels. This would connect Yellowstone to the NWR and provide more room to roam for species like bison, who could make the journey without encountering livestock conflict. It would also connect Yellowstone grizzlies and wolves to habitat in central Idaho. It's a wonderful chance to protect and restore this critical wildlife corridor.
Dear Members of Congress and Secretary Vilsack,
I am very supportive of the proposed decision to close the Agricultural Research Station's U.S. Sheep Experiment Station. The economic and environmental impacts of the station are unnecessarily burdensome to the American public and the time has come to change these lands into protected habitat for native wildlife. In addition to closing the Sheep Experiment Station, I am asking you to transfer the ARS lands to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This will improve its function as a corridor for wildlife between Yellowstone National Park and the refuge and reduce the threat of predator/livestock conflict in the Centennial Mountains.
This is a wonderful opportunity to change management to meet the needs of native wildlife and the broad interests of the American public.