Public Land Grazing Reform Proposals

There’s more to public land grazing reform than just increasing the monthly grazing fee toward its market value. Here’s a list of other changes that should also be made, regardless of the fee:

  • Prohibit livestock grazing in hot deserts
  • Prohibit livestock grazing in federal wilderness areas
  • Prohibit livestock grazing in the National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Prohibit livestock grazing in every National Park
  • Prohibit livestock grazing in riparian areas, particularly during the summer
  • Prohibit natural springs from being dewatered to supply livestock watering sites
  • Prohibit federal reserved surface water rights on public land from being used to water livestock
  • Prohibit high forage utilization rates by livestock on uplands, such as those used in the junk science holistic resource management (HRM) grazing schemes
  • Prohibit trees and shrubs from being destroyed to create more herbaceous forage for cattle
  • Require all livestock fences to have a smooth lower wire to make them more wildlife friendly
  • Require that the primary goal of public land grazing drought management be the protection of the land, instead of tying to keep livestock on the land as long as possible in order to maintain ranching operations
  • Allow a permittee to take conservation nonuse on their grazing allotment for as long as they want without any possibility that the government will transfer the permit to a rancher that wants to graze it
  • Require that the names of the permittees of every grazing allotment be made available to the public
  • Create a voluntary grazing permit retirement program that pays public land ranchers for voluntarily relinquishing their grazing permits in order to permanently retire their grazing allotments
  • Increase funding to U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) range programs so the agencies have sufficient staff to monitor and manage the public land ranching operations under their jurisdiction
  • Establish a federal compensation fund to pay public land ranchers the market values of their grazing permits if their allotments are administratively retired
  • Set a maximum allowable amount of total government assistance that can be received by a public land rancher
  • Require that a cost-benefit analysis be included in all NEPA analyses of proposed livestock management plans for public lands

Many of these measures would require Congressional action, but not all of them. Some could be implemented administratively through executive orders issued by the U.S. president, policy clarifications by the agencies, or the decisions of local federal land managers.

There’s probably some good ideas missing from this list, but it’s a start. Feel free to suggest some more.

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3 Comments

  1. I agree with all these proposals. But I hope you are looking at Biden’s 30X30 program–it looks like in order to achieve the 30% level for land, they are very likely to include land grazed by cattle as “protected” and, indeed, a proposal by Amy Klobuchar and Thune would allow grazing lands to be supported under the CRP program–another expansion of grazing (albeit on private lands in this case but lands that are being supported by public funding). So things are going to get worse even under Biden Admin.

  2. I strongly support and applaud all of these proposed grazing reforms. I would add that commercial livestock grazing should not be allowed within the designated critical habitats of threatened Mojave desert tortoises and other species listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Many of these proposed reforms could be achieved through rulemaking or other administrative actions. However, a huge obstacle to adopting and successfully implementing any of these reforms is the regressive, corrupt, and secretive dominant agency management cultures. With respect to BLM, please see the open letter to Interior Secretary Haaland at the web link below. BLM managers’ job performance must be linked to how their decisions benefit or harm land health and whether they reverse downward resource trends. Thanks for your consideration.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/08/20/the-blm-is-broken-heres-how-to-fix-it/

  3. With the Supreme Court’s EPA ruling, all regulatory actions by agencies will be subject to the same warped thinking that unless Congress specifically cited that regulation authority in the original legislation, it is illegal. This will keep the courts busy for decades. This will also be applied to Executive Orders by the President. Heaven save the Earth from the trumplicans.

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