With water supplies dwindling and grazing land baking in near-drought conditions, U.S. Forest Service officials say northern Utah and southern Idaho ranchers likely will be forced to move their stock soon.
Dave Baumgartner, district ranger for the Logan District of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said Saturday that if it doesn't rain, grazing on the district's allotments will have to be halted two months early.Sherm Boyce, Caribou National Forest branch chief for range-watershed and wildlife management, said the same situation applies in southern Idaho.
"There is no place on the forest lands where forage growth and water sources are in a more critical condition than in southeastern Idaho," he said.
Boyce said 384 permit holders were notified last week they may have to curtail grazing at July's end.
The normal grazing season in both districts is from mid-May to Oct. 1.
Baumgartner said the forest resources must be protected.
"When the forage is gone, when we run out of feed, we will have to move the animals," he said.
Don Huber, Cache County extension agent, said bringing animals out early would put a strain on producers who already are facing short feed supplies and rising prices.