Ranchers and grazing permit holders will get an unprecedented level of flexibility in the management of livestock while also protecting the public lands, thanks to a new initiative from the Bureau of Land Management. This effort emphasizes the Trump Administration’s goal of promoting shared conservation stewardship of public lands while supporting uses such as grazing.
“Farmers and ranchers know the wildlife and the land they work better than anyone; it only makes sense that we would enlist them in conservation efforts,” said Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “One of my top goals is for the government to be a better neighbor, land manager, and partner. I think it’s a great step in that direction. I applaud the team at BLM for coming up with this innovative program.”
Under the demonstration program, the BLM will work with grazing permittees and other stakeholders in identifying 6 to 12 “Outcome-Based Grazing Authorizations” in its first year. Grazing authorizations typically emphasize process and prescription. The new authorizations will instead emphasize ecological outcomes, allowing livestock operators more flexibility to make adjustments in response to changing conditions such as drought or wildland fire. This innovative concept is intended to develop and determine the effectiveness of these permits to manage livestock grazing on public lands in order to meet both natural resource and operational objectives.
“This initiative is in line with the Administration’s priority promoting shared stewardship of public lands and giving local stakeholders a say in how these lands are managed,” said Michael D. Nedd, acting BLM Director. “This demonstration project will allow permittees and the BLM to work together more efficiently and effectively to support sustainable grazing operations.”
The new authorizations will emphasize conservation performance, ecological outcomes, and cooperative management of public lands that will also provide greater opportunity for an operator to manage ranching operations that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.
Through this new demonstration program, the BLM plans to work with permit holders and other stakeholders to show that livestock grazing on the public lands can operate under a more flexible framework than is commonly used in order to better reach agreed upon habitat or vegetation goals. The BLM and its partners in the grazing community will share experiences and best practices that will determine if additional authorizations can be successful in the future.
The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze their livestock (mostly cattle and sheep) on more than 21,000 allotments. Livestock grazing occurs on 155 million acres of public lands.
The BLM will solicit project proposals through its state offices with a deadline of Oct. 27, 2017.