Thirty-seven conservation groups representing millions of members sent the Bureau of Land Management a letter on Friday, Feb. 14, requesting additional time to comment on the agency’s proposed grazing regulation revisions.
The BLM manages livestock on 155 million acres of public land in 11 states, and any regulatory changes will have significant environmental impacts across the West. The BLM is having four public meetings in remote locations: Elko, Nevada; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Miles City, Montana; and Casper, Wyoming), and is offering a very short public comment period to take recommendations on its process.
“The BLM has deliberately scheduled meetings in far-flung places in what appears to be an effort to stymie public participation,” said Josh Osher, policy director for Western Watersheds Project. “The combined population of the meeting locations is less than 200,000 people, a tiny fraction of the 280 million public lands users annually who will be affected by the proposed changes.”
The BLM is currently in the scoping period of its proposed revisions and has announced that it will seek to change the permitting process, the public participation aspects of grazing decisions, and how and where it will evaluate landscape health in relation to livestock grazing.
“This is another example of this administration’s efforts to limit review and participation in decisions that affect public lands, including habitat for threatened and endangered species, recreation areas, Native American cultural sites, and wilderness,” stated Judi Brawer, Wild Places program director for WildEarth Guardians. “The BLM is supposed to act in the best interest of all peoples who use these lands, not just the ranchers.”
“Changes to the grazing regulations could affect nearly 5 million acres of America’s most protected wilderness lands,” said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “The public needs and deserves more than a few weeks to review the proposal and provide meaningful recommendations to ensure these extraordinary lands are not harmed.”
Editor’s note: The Times-Independent published the BLM’s meeting notice on this issue in the Feb. 13 edition. Readers can find it on the T-I’s website at moabtimes.com/2020/02/14/blm-continues-review-of-cattle-grazing-regulations/