Range Management on the GMUG National Forest


Grazing Rotations and Allotment Maps


 photo of 2 men on horseback herding cows

Herding cows on Wotten Mesa in the West Elk Mountains (Photo by D. Bradford).

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests issue grazing permits to 226 ranchers to graze about 62,000 cattle, 270 horses and 31,000 sheep on approximately 2.6 million acres.  The grazing permits specify livestock numbers, season of use and numerous other terms and conditions. 

photo of sheep grazing

Sheep allotment on the Paonia Ranger District (Photo by D Bradford).

Management has increased and improved since livestock grazing was first authorized on the national forests over 100 years ago.  Today, grazing is carefully planned and closely monitored.  This planned grazing program is designed to accomplish specific resource objectives. The fences, gates and corrals that you may see are critical to managing the livestock and meeting the resource objectives. 

photo of square transect over grass and 2 men estimating cover

Forest Service Range Specialist monitor range condititons annually by
estimating plant type and cover within vegetation plots and photographing
each plot for comparisons over time

photo two men standing and looking over landscape

Range specialists look over the current conditions of the landscape for comparisons with historic records.

photo of two men installing water tank

Range permittee installs a water tank for livestock on the GMUG National Forest.

 Additionally, thousands of acres on the Forest are treated to eliminate noxious weeds, with about 80% of these acres accomplished through partnerships, grants and agreements.

photo of man spraying weeds near horse

An example of a horse mounted weed spraying rig.

Ranchers that hold grazing permits on the GMUG National Forests are required to own a certain amount of private or base property.  In general the private lands are located in the lower elevations on prime agricultural lands.  This private land provides a significant amount of undeveloped open space.  These lands also provide wildlife habitat below the national forest. 

photo two mule deer in snow  looking up

Mule deer often move to lower elevation private lands to forage during the winter.

Ranching operations provide significant economic and social benefits to our local communities.  The GMUG provides millions of dollars to Colorado’s economy through multiple uses including grazing.  The Forest Service makes payments to the State who then distributes these funds to the Counties in which national forest lands lie.  These receipts are distributed through the Secure Rural Schools Act and help support roads, schools and environmental protection on County and federal lands.

photo of a ear tagged cow  grazing

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Colorado beef is good for our local economies! (photo by Devon Overton).

More Information about Range Management on the National Forest: