Blue Mountain Eagle
JOHN DAY – The Malheur National Forest is alerting hunters to potential problems caused by salt blocks set out on the public lands.
Officials said the salt can damage resources in sensitive areas, and may cause problems for grazing permittees.
Water sources attract wildlife, and some hunters scouting for an upcoming season locate game cameras in these areas. When a salt block is used, it also draws concentrations of permitted cattle from that forest allotment.
Ranchers grazing cattle on the forest are required to locate salt at least one-quarter mile from water sources so that concentrated use doesn’t happen in the wrong places.
“Malheur National Forest livestock grazing permittees use salt placement as a tool to distribute their cattle to upland vegetation,” said Ernie Gipson, forest range program manager. “Leaving salt near water sources causes cattle to stay longer and over utilize important riparian vegetation.”
Even when a block is removed, the salt residue can contaminate the soil and leach into the water, with negative effects on aquatic species and plant life, officials said.
They also cited problems with people setting up water troughs to attract game in dryer areas of the forest. Those troughs draw both cattle and wildlife to fragile areas; smaller animals also are drawn and may drown in the water. The latter is why Forest Service water guzzlers must have escape structures built in.
Forest officials also are scrutinizing use of tree stands and other structures for cameras to track wildlife.
As long as the stands are temporary and don’t damage the tree or other resources, they won’t be disturbed by law enforcement officers. However, more permanent wooden structures are a problem because the nails and spikes cause damage to the tree and could pose a risk to sawyers and mill equipment, officials said.
“We do not want to over-regulate these activities,” said Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Aaron Henrichs. “We hope folks recognize and try to help manage these issues.”