Wilderness designation doesn't eliminate grazing

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To the Editor:
Public lands as well as our agricultural heritage are two very important issues here in Northwest Colorado; in many ways they are connected to each other.
Over the past year, as the Northwest Community Organizer for the Colorado Wilderness Network, I have spent a great deal of time talking with people in Moffat County and Rio Blanco County. Livestock grazing has come up often as an important issue, especially as it relates to wilderness.
Writing on behalf of the Colorado Wilderness Network, a coalition of more than 350 businesses and organizations working to protect Colorado canyons as wilderness, I would like to clarify our position on wilderness and commercial livestock grazing.
Wilderness, besides protecting wildlands in their natural states, also protects traditional uses of land including hunting, horsepacking and livestock grazing. We at the Colorado Wilderness network recognize that grazing is explicitly allowed for in the Wilderness Act on public land where it occurred historically prior to wilderness designation. Furthermore, Congress has clearly and repeatedly stated that grazing activity should not be curtailed or eliminated merely because an area is designated wilderness. Rather, any decisions on stocking levels both within and outside of the wilderness should be made on the basis of land health. The Colorado Wilderness Network strongly supports the same standards of land health that govern grazing on all public lands that work to protect plants, wildlife and riparian areas.
The Colorado Wilderness Network, in our collective work to designate as wilderness special areas in the Citizens' Wilderness Proposal, acknowledges that livestock grazing will be allowed to continue on these lands if and when they are designated as wilderness.
I look forward to continuing my conversations with all segments of Moffat County and Rio Blanco County communities. My door is always open and I would love to hear from you if you have any further questions about grazing and/or wilderness in Northwest Colorado. Please feel free to contact me at (970) 871-1786 or e-mail jennifer@cecenviro.org.
Jennifer Seidenberg,
Colorado Wilderness Network

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