BLM continues review of cattle grazing regulations

cattle graze on public lands
Cattle graze on one of 18,000 BLM permits. Photo courtesy of BLM

The Bureau of Land Management continues to listen to the public, grazing leaseholders and other stakeholders as part of the initial scoping process to consider proposed revisions to the agency’s grazing regulations. The BLM currently manages livestock grazing on 155 million of the 245 million acres of public land and administers nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases, according to a statement from the Bureau.

“Sustainable livestock grazing on public lands is a part of the history and culture of the West. We’re seeking input on specific aspects of the current regulations which may be in need of revision or that could be improved, in order to keep public land livestock grazing viable for the future,” said Casey Hammond, acting assistant secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. At this point in the process, we are asking the public, the agricultural community and other stakeholders for their ideas, in order to develop specific proposals.”

Revisions identified through the scoping process will be incorporated into a proposed rule that will be subject to additional public review and comment. The agency published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement evaluating alternatives for potential changes to grazing regulations on Jan. 21.

The BLM seeks to identify potential changes that will update, modernize and streamline the grazing regulations and provide greater flexibility for land and resource management. Through this rulemaking process, the BLM seeks to improve existing land-use planning and grazing permitting procedures, while simultaneously promoting public lands conservation. The BLM hopes to improve its stewardship of the nation’s rangeland resources by strengthening controls to prevent unauthorized grazing, enhancing environmental protections across various non-grazing land-use programs, and improving public input opportunities.

The BLM has three remaining scoping meetings after the first was completed on Thursday, Feb. 6 in Miles City, Montana. These meetings are being held to get feedback and ideas about what — if anything — should be changed in the BLM’s grazing regulations. Remaining dates and venues are below:

Feb. 11 in Las Cruces, New Mexico at the Las Palmas Grill, 201 East University Ave., from 4:30-7:30 p.m.; and Feb. 18 in Elko, Nevada at the Elko Convention Center, 700 Moren Way, from 4:30-7:30 p.m.; and Casper, Wyoming: Feb. 20, at the Casper Events Center, 1 Events Dr., from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

All of the scoping meetings are conducted in an open house format in which members of the public can come and go at any point during the event.

The BLM is currently managing 11 demonstration projects in six states as part of its outcome-based grazing authorizations initiative. These demonstration projects provide BLM, working in partnership with ranchers and other partners, with opportunities to improve guidance and best management practices to use when issuing grazing permits. Lessons learned from developing cooperative monitoring plans and land health evaluations under this initiative may also be incorporated into this regulatory process.

Comments on potential regulation revisions may be provided at the scoping meetings, or submitted in writing until March 6. Meeting information, announcements, instructions on how to provide comments, and pertinent documents can be found at the BLM website at go.usa.gov/xyMqb.