Nevada Has a Very Bad Grazing Problem

Source: Peer.org

Worst in West: Two-Thirds of Assessed BLM Allotments Badly Overgrazed

Washington, DC — Federal rangeland in Nevada is being seriously damaged from overgrazing at a higher rate than any state in the West, according to a new analysis of U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  Nearly two-thirds of BLM grazing allotments that have been assessed fail the agency’s own minimum standards for water quality, vegetation, soil, and wildlife habitat due to overgrazing.

PEER’s analysis of BLM grazing allotments in Nevada shows that –

  • More than 15 million acres – an area exceeding the size of West Virginia – fail landscape health standards due to overgrazing. More than 40% of the area remains to be assessed, much within the area where most allotments fail due to overgrazing. When all allotments have been assessed, it is reasonable to expect the final figure will be millions more;
  • The allotment acreage not meeting standards is more than 5 times the acreage that BLM has characterized as meeting standards; and
  • More than half of Nevada’s BLM allotments have yet to be assessed, meaning that the total area of livestock-induced damage could be far larger.

“By any measure, federal rangeland in Nevada reflects some of the worst ecological conditions in the West,” stated PEER Special Projects Manager Kirsten Stade, noting that more than two-thirds of the entire state is BLM land, most of that comprised of large, remote, arid grazing allotments. “Our estimates of damaged BLM lands are likely significantly understated, meaning that as much as one-third of the entire state is in a severely degraded condition due to unsustainable livestock practices.”

The PEER analysis looked at 10 Western states and found that rates of failure to achieve rangeland health standards differ by region—not surprisingly, given the difficulty of supporting large numbers of domestic livestock across desert and semiarid regions that are not suited to impacts of this scale. While Nevada had the highest failure rate in acreage of assessed allotments (64%), it was followed closely by Idaho with a 57% livestock failure rate and Wyoming with a 44% failure rate.  By contrast, BLM data shows only a 2% failure rate in arid New Mexico and an 11% failure rate in Arizona.

Overall, throughout the 13 Western states, BLM indicates that almost 40 million acres, or 36% of all acres assessed, failed BLM landscape health standards with livestock identified as a cause.  That degraded area is equivalent to the size of the entire State of Washington.

“Landscape failure on the scale being recorded in Nevada is a game changer, especially as drought conditions worsen,” added Stade, pointing to the implications for the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30% of U.S. land by 2030. “The BLM’s new leadership should take a hard look at these figures to find what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong – and why.”

Look at the state-by-state livestock failure rates

Compare the failure rate for all BLM lands in the West

Examine the PEER methodology

2 replies »

  1. We’ve all known how cattle degrade the land not their fault, just facts. They shouldn’t be allowed on public land while wild horses & burros are sent to slaughter losing their lives as well as their rightful homes! Federally protected horses are anything but! The American people have begged the U.S. Government to save our, yes our for they belong to us, Wild Horses for years and it has fallen on deaf ears. The cattle industry has had them killed off to suit their needs and now look what has happened to our lands. We told you so, but as usual no one was listening!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While commercial livestock grazing is permitted on public lands, it is NOT a requirement under the agency’s multiple use mandate as outlined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Public land grazing clearly is a privilege not a right.


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