The Heber-Reno Domestic Sheep Driveway and Management of Bighorn Sheep in Arizona.

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1 The Heber-Reno Domestic Sheep Driveway and Management of Bighorn Sheep in Arizona.

2 The driveway occurs on 60 miles of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest and 80 miles of the Tonto National Forest. The lower eight miles run through bighorn sheep habitat.

3 Use would occur two times per year, spring and late summer. Total travel time would not exceed 57 days, normally 31 days in the spring and 26 days in the fall.

4 History of Bighorn Sheep Declines : Bighorn populations in Arizona apparently began to decline as early as the 1860 s. We can only conjecture about the reason for the severe declines of bighorn. However, the role of livestock and disease is likely to have been a key reason. Homesteaders from the Castle Hot Springs area stated that the area s bighorn sheep began to disappear shortly after the first domestic sheep were introduced around By the early 1900 s bighorn persisted only in some of the desert mountain ranges of the southwestern portion of Arizona and in portions of the Grand Canyon.

5 Heber Reno Sheep Driveway History In 1898 Woodrow Wilson created a proclamation allowing for domestic sheep driveways in specifically designated areas but the proclamation did not give any rights on USFS lands. The actual record of the Heber-Reno Domestic Sheep Driveway establishment in Arizona has not been located but the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests have references to the Forester's marking of the boundaries of the Driveway in This route was used by as many as 400,000 sheep, twice a year in the early part of the 20th century. Driveways in the West were established in the 1890 s, and formalized by law and Executive Order by 1916.

6 Unit 22 Desert Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction In 1982, the Arizona Game and Fish Department released desert bighorn sheep in an area that was at that time thought to be far enough east of the Driveway as not to facilitate the mixing of domestic sheep and wild sheep. As the herd expanded to the west they occupied the habitat that is adjacent to the Driveway.

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8 Current Facts of the Driveway Approximately 8,000 permitted sheep are authorized on the Heber-Reno Sheep Driveway. Two to four 2,000-sheep bands are authorized to cross the southern boundary of the Tonto NF in the Usery Pass area located on the Mesa RD. The Usery Pass and the Blue Point bedding grounds are separated from bighorn sheep habitat by 1.0 and 0.34 miles, respectively. The Usery Pass bedding ground is separated from bighorn sheep habitat by flat ground and the Blue Point bedding ground is separated from bighorn sheep habitat by the Salt River.

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17 What's at stake Unit 22 Desert bighorn sheep population Unit 24B Desert bighorn sheep population Establishment of new Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep herds Desert Bighorn Sheep transplant stock Desert Bighorn Sheep viewing opportunities adjacent to major urban population Valley of the Sun

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19 Serge W. Wright Unit

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21 Transplant to Goldfield Mountains Desert Bighorns

22 Unit 23 Hells Gate Wilderness Rocky Mountain bighorns

23 More Background on Unit 22 Survey Data: During 1980 and desert bighorn sheep were released near Goat Mountain in Unit 22. The first bighorn sheep hunt permit was issued in this unit by Survey Total October observed, population estimate +200 (population peak) July desert bighorn sheep transplanted from Unit 22 to Unit 24B Survey Total October observed, population estimate +104 (beginning of Population decline) Survey Total October observed, population estimate 47 (population low)

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25 The Department conducted research on the bighorn sheep in the southern portion of Unit 22. One hope for the research was to try to determine, after the fact, the cause of the decline in the mid 1990s. The research, results and conclusions were based on the parameters of the population at the time of the research, which was conducted from To complicate the research effort even more, from April 2001 to 2003 use of the sheep driveway in the area was curtailed by the Forest Service due to drought and insufficient forage for sheep.

26 Disease was suspected for the decline of the population, but no clinical symptoms of disease (other than contagious ecthyma) were ever observed during Other evidence of exposure to disease agents was not found. The report hypothesizes that nutritional status and mountain lion predation were the biggest factors in the bighorn sheep population during the study period (McKinney et al 2005).

27 Time line of Environmental Assessment of the Driveway: 2004 Conservation groups settlement stipulates that the Forest Service analyze environmental impacts of the Heber-Reno domestic sheep "driveway" on the Tonto National Forest's bighorn sheep population. Prior to this lawsuit an Environmental Assessment for the driveway was on indefinite hold ID Team established by the USFS and a Risk Assessment Team established with our Department as the lead.

28 Unit 22 and the Risk Assessment: The question was asked why AGFD reintroduced sheep in this area in the 1980 s knowing that the Driveway existed. The Department released the sheep in an area that was at that time thought to be far enough east of the Driveway as not to facilitate the mixing of domestic sheep and wild sheep. As the herd expanded to the west they occupied the habitat that is adjacent to the Driveway.

29 The conclusions and recommendations of this Workgroup are only designed to assist with the NEPA process and include assumptions that have not been quantitatively substantiated. The following are the items that received the most votes and are recommendations by the Workgroup: 1. Aerial surveys of wild sheep locations prior to domestic sheep entering the Driveway and the use of volunteers to haze wild sheep and locate domestic sheep strays should reduce risk. 2. An AGFD policy for removal and management of wild sheep that have come in contact with domestic sheep is needed. 3. Sustained compensation for permittees for use of pastures in lieu of the Driveway, trucking domestic sheep around wild sheep habitat, truncating the Driveway around wild sheep habitat, or elimination of Driveway will reduce risk of Pasteurella/Mannheimia-type pneumonic disease.

30 Furthermore, the Workgroup makes the following conclusions: 1. The Driveway in its entirety represents very low to low risk of nose-to-nose contact between domestic sheep and wild sheep. 2. The Mesa Ranger District subsection of the Forest represents the highest risk for nose-to-nose contact between domestic sheep and wild sheep and was rated as low risk.

31 Environmental Assessment for Heber-Reno/Morgan Mountain Sheep Driveways Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests April 2010

32 2010 Legal notice for the preliminary Environmental Assessment published Alternative 1 No Action no authorization of driveway Alternative 2 The Proposed Action no change Alternative 3 Partial Use remove portion that lies within bighorn sheep habitat

33 February 18, 2011 Decision Notice and final finding of no significant impact for the Heber-Reno and Morgan Mountain Sheep Driveway project Alternative 2, business as usual.

34 Although bighorn sheep are known to disperse between mountain ranges through flat areas, bighorn sheep generally prefer rugged topography to escape predators. The Usery Pass and the Blue Point bedding grounds are separated from bighorn sheep habitat by 1.0 and 0.34 miles, respectively, of flat ground.

35 In addition, the Blue Point bedding ground is separated from bighorn sheep habitat by the Salt River.

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37 April 5, 2011 deadline to appeal decision AGFD written response for Alterative 3

38 Uncertain Future

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