Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

17 comments on “Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

  1. Under CFR 4710.5 and 4710.6, BLM has the authority to curtail or cancel livestock grazing privileges on public lands in order to ensure thriving, healthy herds of wild horses and burros on their legal lands.

    § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.
    (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/43/4710.5

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this , they are to be considered in the area where presently found as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” Defined as… ” the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits, and which is devoted PRINCIPALLY but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare…”

    Liked by 2 people

    • HA. “Sustain an existing herd or herds…” how many have been wiped out completely since 1971, and how many more are being managed as non or near non-reproducing herds?

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  3. US land managers designate grazing projects in 6 West states
    ELKO DAILY Mar 27, 2018
    The Bureau of Land Management have designated 11 demonstration projects in six Western states in a bid to create more flexibility for grazing livestock on public range.
    “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 in launching the program.
    The goal of outcome-based grazing authorizations, which were announced in September 2017, is to allow BLM managers and livestock operators to respond to changing, on-the-ground conditions such as wildfires, high moisture years, or drought. This will better ensure healthy rangelands, wildlife habitat, and economically sustainable ranching operations, the BLM reported.
    “The demonstration projects will play an important part in establishing outcome-based grazing authorizations as a standard practice,” said Brian Steed, Deputy Director of Programs and Policy. “We will consider the success of the demonstration projects as we develop guidance for future authorizations.”
    Outcome-based grazing emphasizes conservation performance, ecological, economic and social outcomes and cooperative management of public lands. The BLM said this initiative will help demonstrate that permitted livestock grazing on public lands can operate under a less rigid framework than is commonly used in order to better reach agreed upon habitat and vegetation goals.
    For example, one of the improvements might involve giving operators the leeway to turn out cattle on young cheatgrass, while the plants are still palatable to cattle.
    http://magicvalley.com/news/local/us-land-managers-designate-grazing-projects-in-west-states/article_2791b779-4469-5f8b-9d06-798e1bf9f0c1.html#utm_source=magicvalley.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fdaily-headlines%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66C041A6DB0DAC32FE48018EC208D852193B173E

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    • I wonder about the claim public lands permittees “know the land” better than anyone, since most permits are only a few months long, and most cattle are visited and moved on by ranch hands, and sheep are almost exclusively managed by immigrant sheepherders, usually single men, who are out all summer moving with their flock, then return to their home countries at the end of the grazing season. It is rare for any to have year round full time employment, or much beyond minimum wage. Some friends and I took a care package of several boxes of food one summer to a sheepherder from Peru who we came upon in the mountiains who was close to starving. Private lands farmers and ranchers keep more of a hand in, certainly, but plenty of those are just leasing lands anymore so have less of a long-term view to the health of the entire ecosystem.

      Also, if the quote above is accurately stated, just how is it that wildlife (which includes wild horses and burros, and belong to all citizens) is being “worked” by farmers and ranchers, since most is illegal? If someone lives near a public trout stream, they are not allowed to take all the fish they want out of public waters, nor kill as many deer or elk as they desire if they live or work near a herd. So this “work” quote is patently off-base and seems to encourage illegal activities.

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    • How much LESS rigid can the framework be? To “better reach agreed upon habitat & vegetation goals” – remove livestock from the range!

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  4. 5 Nevada ranches selected for Trump admininstration’s grazing projects
    ELKO DAILY
    “Everybody’s going to share best practices and how they work things out,” BLM Public Affairs Officer Greg Deimel told the Elko Daily Free Press.
    Other authorized projects in Nevada will be at the Willow Ranch at Battle Mountain, Smith Creek Ranch at Carson City, and John Uhalde and Company in Ely.
    The remaining projects are in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming.
    http://elkodaily.com/news/local/nevada-ranches-selected-for-trump-admininstration-s-grazing-projects/article_b3b5b7a1-ae35-5ff6-81ed-4bc24db47288.html#utm_source=elkodaily.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fdaily-headlines%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66C041A6DB0DAC32FE48018EC208D852193B173E

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    • SMITH CREEK RANCH
      FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
      Desatoya Mountains
      Habitat Resiliency, Health,
      And Restoration Project
      DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0513-EA

      July, 2012

      Through a cooperative agreement, Smith Creek Ranch and the BLM developed a long-term monitoring program that provides feedback to the grazing program based on cooperatively collected baseline data.

      Excess Wild Horse Removal
      Depending on gather efficiency (70-80%), the Proposed Action would involve gathering an estimated 450 – 525 wild horses while removing approximately 400 excess wild horses during the initial helicopter drive-trapping gather in the late summer/early fall of 2012. If gather efficiencies exceed 80% wild horses would be returned to the HMA following the initial gather activities. Under this alternative, the BLM would attempt to gather a sufficient number of wild horses beyond the excess wild horses to be removed, so as to allow for the application of fertility control (PZP-22 or most current formulation) to all breeding age mares that are released and to adjust the sex ratio of animals on the range following the gather to favor males (60% stallions). The sex ratio of potential released animals will be dependent on the sex ratio of gathered wild horses. Approximately 65% or more of all released wild horses would likely be stallions to achieve a 60% male sex ratio on the range (including animals not gathered). All wild horse mares released back into the HMA would be treated with fertility control vaccine (PZP-22 or the most current formulation) to maintain AML, extend the time before another gather is required, and reduce the number of excess wild horses that would need to be removed in the future. The procedures to be followed for implementation of fertility control are detailed in Appendix C. The overall management objective is to manage a core breeding population of 127 head (low AML) within the Desatoya HMA with a desired sex ratio that favors males (60% stallions). All wild horses residing outside of established HMA boundaries will be removed regardless of sex and age and would not be relocated back to the HMA.

      Following the initial helicopter gather in late summer/early fall 2012, the BLM intends to use of bait/water trapping over the next 10 years to continue removing small numbers of excess wild horses (20-30) each year until the overall population management objectives are met or to maintain AML range. All future removals of excess wild horses will be based upon population inventories conducted through aerial or ground surveys. As part of these planned annual bait/water trapping sessions, the objective would be to trap sufficient numbers of wild horses to continue to administer fertility control vaccine and remove excess wild horses in order to achieve and/or maintain the AML range and desired sex ratio. If the proposed bait/water trapping and fertility control treatments prove to be unsuccessful in maintaining population objectives, then it is anticipated that a follow up helicopter-driven gather would be implemented in the Desatoya HMA every two to three years over the next 10 years to re-vaccinate the mares and remove excess animals. All future gather activities would be conducted in a manner consistent with those described for the late summer/early fall 2012 gather. Funding limitations and competing priorities may require delaying future follow-up gathers and population control activities.

      For bait or water trapping Smith Creek Ranch LLC would construct either permanent or temporary corrals around water sources (private or BLM land). Personal from Smith Creek Ranch or a private gather contractor would close the gate on the corral/trap either remotely or a mechanical release method may be used such as a trip wire. If a mechanical release method which is activated by the horses is employed the trap would be inspected daily whenever there is a possibility of the gate being closed. Personnel from Smith Creek Ranch or a private gather contractor would follow all of the procedures outlined in Appendix D, Standard Operating Procedures for Wild Horse (or Burro) Gathers.

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      • FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
        Desatoya Mountains
        Habitat Resiliency, Health,
        And Restoration Project
        DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0513-EA

        July, 2012

        Summary – Within the project area, up to approximately 32,705 acres of ground disturbing treatments are proposed over a ten year period including pinyon/juniper removal and thinning; wet meadow and spring rehabilitation/protection (includes fencing, pipelines, and troughs); rabbitbrush control using mowing followed by herbicide treatment and reseeding; a site-specific fuels treatment utilizing
        prescribed fire,
        herbicide, and seeding; and
        excess wild horse removal utilizing helicopter drive-trapping and water/bait trapping methods.
        Additionally, researchers at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) have set up a long term experimental watershed on private land within Porter Canyon to measure the hydrologic changes associated with pinyon/juniper tree removal. Portions of the UNR experiment would be expanded to BLM lands within Porter and Dalton Canyons. Ground-disturbing activities are summarized below for the main treatment areas, which are shown on maps 4-7 Appendix G. In addition to the main areas, between Porter and Dalton Canyon approximately 7,753 acres of 20 to 75 percent and 2,054 acres of up to 100 percent of PJ would be removed using any of the described methods in the be following Vegetation Treatment Methods section below (See Map 3 Appendix G). Specific details for vegetation treatments, wet meadow and spring rehabilitation, wild horse removal, and the Cold Spring fuels treatment are described in Sections 2.2 – 2.5, which follow these summaries:

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      • FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
        Desatoya Mountains
        Habitat Resiliency, Health,
        And Restoration Project
        DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0513-EA

        Tree Cutting and Partial Tree Removal -PJ would be cut with hand and small mechanized tools. A portion of the wood would be removed as firewood or other biomass utilization under permit within designated boundaries either for personal use or for commercial resale. These areas would be determined by the BLM on a yearly basis based on public demand and project needs. Individuals would need to obtain a permit or contract from the CCD. Firewood cutting treatment areas would be located near existing roads. Woodcutters would be permitted to drive off established roads only as needed to load and remove the wood.
        Vegetation remnants (slash) would be left in place by wood cutters. If needed to meet objectives after termination of firewood cutting, slash would be treated further under BLM supervision by either shredding or scattering, emphasizing the need to cover vehicle tracks to avoid establishment of new permanent travel routes. Harvest or mechanical shredding of woody material would not be employed in canyon and foothill sites where slopes limit vehicle access.

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      • FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
        Desatoya Mountains
        Habitat Resiliency, Health,
        And Restoration Project
        DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0513-EA

        July, 2012

        Rabbitbrush Control -2, 4-D herbicide would be applied during the spring growing season according to label specifications to eliminate monotypic stands of rabbitbrush that have encroached into meadow areas in Dalton Canyon. The herbicide would be applied by backpack sprayer or wet blade mower to only what has been cut.

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  5. The Taylor Grazing Act originally established “outcome based grazing” so this is nothing new. Grazing permits were always by law to be monitored, modified and/or rescinded based on conditions and permittee actions, it has just rarely been accomplished.

    Looks like the same old wine and will produce only easily predictable results.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Louie- No doubt the Smith Creek Ranch of Nevada are welfare ranchers who have the BLM in their pocket. Per The Smith Creek Ranch Company Ltd received federal welfare rancher payments totaling $348,286 from 2001 through 2009 in addition to the other things you mentioned.

    This is not in keeping with the law or the wishes of the American people who own the land and who own the wild horses and wild burros – it is completely biased and favored toward special “favored” interest groups. This in itself is illegal and often called “Regulatory Capture”.

    Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for firms to behave in ways injurious to the public (e.g., producing negative externalities). The agencies are called “captured agencies”.

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