BLM and Forest Service Announce 2018 Discount Welfare Grazing ‘Fees?’

Move over Wild Horses, Burros and other native critters as private “welfare” cattle, sheep and goats are coming to destroy the forage on public lands near YOU!!!

Welfare Cattle herded into Antelope Complex as wild horses are being rounded up ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


News Release WASHINGTON, DC

 Contact: BLM: blm_press@blm.gov Forest Service: pressoffice@fs.fed.us

 For immediate release Date: January 30, 2018

 BLM and Forest Service announce 2018 grazing fees

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal grazing fee for 2018 will be $1.41 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.41 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the USDA Forest Service.

 The 2017 public land grazing fee was $1.87. An AUM or HM—treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes—is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

The newly calculated grazing fee was determined by a congressional formula and takes effect March 1, 2018. The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service.

The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential Executive Order. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM/HM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. The annually determined grazing fee is established using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM/HM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states.

Sheep covering Adobe Town HMA ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The figure is then calculated according to three factors—current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. In effect, the fee rises, falls, or stays the same based on market conditions.

 The BLM and Forest Service are committed to strong relationships with the ranching community and work closely with permittees to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes.
 Fifty percent of the collected grazing fees deposited into the U.S. Treasury are returned to the Range Betterment Fund for on-the-ground range improvement projects. Portions of collected fees are also returned to the states for use in the counties where the fees were generated.
The grazing fee applies in 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service. The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Permit holders and lessees may contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.

Livestock grazing extremists obscure real-world solutions

by Debbie Coffey

In my opinion…

We need to find a fix for the unhealthy populations of non-native, domestic cattle and sheep on public lands.

Imagine a proposal to introduce privately owned livestock onto the public lands of the American West.  The owners of the privately owned livestock would successfully gain use of 229 million acres of public lands in the West.   The livestock would be owned by a politically powerful industry that attracted a passionate following — people who love using public lands for their private profit so much that they influence the federal management of their privately owned animals so that they would rarely, if ever, be restricted by law.  Some of them would be so passionate that they would take over and occupy government buildings for 41 days, and end up costing taxpayers at least $9 million, including $2.3 million on federal law enforcement and $1.7 million to replace damaged or stolen property.

The downside of these privately owned livestock would be that they destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste.  After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats; overgrazing of native fire-carrying grasses has starved some western forests of fire, making them overly dense and prone to unnaturally severe fires.  Not to mention that predators like the grizzly and Mexican gray wolf were driven extinct in southwestern ecosystems by “predator control” programs designed to protect the livestock industry.

Livestock grazing of privately owned livestock on public lands is promoted, protected and subsidized by federal agencies.  A new analysis  finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land.  Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land.  Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds.

Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands

Just imagine what would happen if this livestock industry continued to thrive while all other natural resources were exhausted and while wildlife starved, died of thirst or became extinct.

Clearly, this is a difficult scenario to support.  Congress needs to overhaul the outdated livestock grazing program and reign in the use of livestock grazing on public lands.  These “welfare ranchers” treat public lands as if they are their own private lands and don’t want to share public lands with wildlife (unless that wildlife can be hunted).  The Bureau of Land Management is supposed to to “maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship” but it heavily favors the livestock grazing industry, even though livestock grazing has damaged 80 percent of the streams and riparian ecosystems in the West.

There are currently very powerful lobbying efforts using misinformation to convince Congress to “euthanize” (kill) or sterilize over 46,000 wild horses and burros in BLM holding facilities, and tens of thousands more on public lands.  But what about the millions of privately owned cattle and sheep on public lands?

There was recently a secretive meeting (closed to the public) in Salt Lake City, Utah, called the National Wild Horse & Burro Summit.  The only groups invited were special interest groups that promote livestock grazing, and academia/universities who rely on money from these special interest groups and government agencies who favor these special interest groups.  The Summit focused on the supposed damage done by wild horses and burros on public lands, while ignoring the real source of the widespread and well documented damage to water and rangeland ecosystems:  domestically owned livestock.   Since they talked about killing our wild horses and burros, this conference was aptly dubbed the “Slaughter Summit.”

Cattle slurping up water in the West (photo: EPA)

Go to the websites of the livestock industry, and you’ll notice that there’s no mention that millions of domestically owned livestock graze on public lands and overgraze or harm wildlife species.  There is no mention that cattle and sheep are not native to North America, since they arrived on Spanish and English ships about 500 years ago.

These extremists try to justify their interests by claiming they grow food, but only 3% of beef grown in the U.S. is grazed on public lands.  Most privately owned livestock graze on privately owned land.

The wild horse & burro population estimates used by these special interest groups are compiled by the BLM and have been found to be scientifically impossible, since the BLM, per its own population estimates, has claimed some wild horse herds increased by as much as 750% or 1250% in only one year.

Fringe “cowboys” have been effective at lobbying for the slaughter of old, unadoptable – or really any – horses.  The BLM has taken away over 22 million acres from Herd Areas, which were supposed to be the federally protected areas for wild horses and burros, and allows livestock grazing on most of the remaining, smaller Herd Management Areas (in addition to millions of other acres on public lands).

It’s easy for people in the other 40 states to be swayed by the livestock grazing extremists.  They look like real cowboys.  But many “ranchers” are large corporations.  Their efforts are responsible for the current situation, in which taxpayers support their private businesses of grazing millions of privately owned livestock on public lands, leaving us with no end in sight, not in numbers, not in funding, not in ecological damage.  What is a real-world solution?

George Wuerthner, (Exec. Dir. of Public Lands Media, V.P. on BoD of Western Watersheds Project & author) to talk about the impacts of the livestock industry on the West (Wed., 11/1/17 on Wild Horse & Burro Radio)

painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

Our guest tonight is GEORGE WUERTHNER, the Exec. Director of Public Lands Media (a project of the Earth Island Institute), Vice President on the Board of Directors for Western Watersheds Project and the author of 38 books.  George will be talking about the multiple ways that the livestock industry impacts the West, from water use, to sage grouse, to bison being shot in Yellowstone and to the killing of predators like grizzlies and wolves.

George’s books include Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction Of The American West, Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy, Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth, Thrillcraft: The Environmental Consequences of Motorized Recreation, Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth, and Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation for Conservation.

Most recently, George was the Ecological Projects Director/Senior Scientist for the Foundation for Deep Ecology and Tompkins Conservation for 12 years. Previous to this position, George taught ecology courses and environmental writing as adjunct lecturer at a number of universities, worked as botanist/backcountry ranger, river ranger, biologist and forestry technician for various federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Forest Service, and was a wilderness guide in Alaska and Yellowstone National Park. George studied Zoology/Wildlife Biology/Botany at the University of Montana, and for graduate school, studied Range Science at Montana State University, Science Communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Geography at the University of Oregon.

This show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey (V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs) of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org

Donate Here: http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/donate/

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The Big Win in Wyoming

Source: Western Watersheds Project

Welfare Ranchers Get a Boot in the Butt!!!

Western Watersheds Project is not primarily known for its defense of the U.S. Constitution. We tend to focus on federal laws and policies relating to the environment and public lands. But now, thanks to a Tenth Circuit Court win and a successful but protracted battle in Wyoming, you can count us among the defenders of free speech!

It all started when Jonathan Ratner, our dedicated Wyoming Director, started gathering evidence of livestock-caused water pollution on public lands and submitting his data to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). His results of significant fecal coliform contamination were so threatening to the political establishment of the “Cowboy State” that rather than clean up the water, Wyoming ranchers started to seek ways to shut us up.

In 2014, anti-environmental attorney (and potential Trump pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management) Karen Budd-Falen and a group of ranchers claimed Jonathan must have trespassed on their private property in order to gather water quality samples from public lands grazing allotments. She wound up the loser. This frivolous lawsuit was resolved in 2016 through a settlement agreement that ultimately penalized the ranchers through their legal fees, and WWP agreeing to follow the same laws it always follows regarding private lands.

Then, in 2015, the Wyoming DEQ decided not to accept any of WWP’s data: “Any submission submitted by such organizations should not be accepted due to their inherent bias towards one of Wyoming’s leading economic industries.” If an organization cares about water quality and native fish habitat more than cows, the data be damned.

Also that year, the DEQ decided to change the rules about E.coli in 76 percent of the waterways in the state – effectively legalizing the extreme pollution levels that Jonathan had been documenting. The rule change, requested by the livestock industry, went into effect in February 2017 despite broad opposition by non-ranchers, recreational users, and federal land management agencies.

In addition to working against WWP and the public’s interest in healthy waterways, the Wyoming State Legislature decided to take special interests’ right to wreck the environment to another level by passing legislation making it illegal to cross “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data.” WWP and our allies were alarmed by the fact that the laws – dubbed “Jonathan’s Laws” by our staff – would seek specifically to punish people who intend to communicate data to the government; this is a restriction on free speech and targets a specific class of citizens (data collectors) in a way that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

After the Wyoming legislature modified the laws in 2016, Wyoming had our case in District Court dismissed. But WWP and our co-plaintiffs weren’t fooled by the tweaks in language, and we appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal and concluded that plain reading of the statute demonstrated that Wyoming was seeking to regulate an activity that occurred on public land and that resource data collection is within the definition of the creation of speech – protected under the First Amendment and essential to public participation in numerous federal environmental statutes. The case now goes back to district court.

Wyoming counties have also taken up the charge to block public access in public lands. In Lincoln County, for years the public used a county road to reach the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area on public lands. In 2013, the county sold a strip of land along the road to an Idaho rancher and subsequently made the private portion of the road impassable. According to emails revealed in litigation, this was done specifically to block WWP’s access to a long-troubled grazing allotment.

WWP is enormously grateful to our attorneys at Public Justice and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association and Natural Resource Defense Council for standing with us on this appeal. We’re also enormously proud of Jonathan Ratner’s work to expose and address the harmful impacts of public lands livestock grazing in the “Cowboy State.”

While we wait for this next round of litigation, we hope that Wyoming’s next move is simply to clean up its act and stop letting the livestock industry foul the state’s precious waters with impunity. 

https://www.westernwatersheds.org/

Judge Rejects Utah Welfare Ranchers Bid to Evict Wild Horses

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune – Story by

“Public lands » Utah argues BLM is failing its duty to manage wild horses, while advocates decry ‘inhumane’ roundups…”

Last terrorized seconds of freedom for native wild horses being rounded up on public lands ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A federal judge on Tuesday tossed a lawsuit brought by Utah ranchers demanding the Bureau of Land Management remove “excess” wild horses from several areas in the West Desert they say are overrun with free-roaming horses that displace their cattle.

Represented by Karen Budd-Falen, a Wyoming lawyer who sources say is undergoing final vetting to serve as the BLM’s next director, the ranchers argued that federal law requires the removal of horses that exceed population targets the agency has set for particular herd areas. But U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish ruled that roundups are not compulsory, unless certain conditions are met.

“Once BLM determines that an overpopulation in fact exists in a given area, the agency has wide discretion in how it addresses that overpopulation,” wrote the former Utah Supreme Court justice in her ruling. “BLM may address the identified overpopulation through removal or through other methods it deems more suitable.”

In recent years, the BLM has been working with contraceptives as a less costly, more humane alternative to the endless cycle of roundups on Western ranges that have resulted in 50,000 horses incarcerated for life in private pastures off the range.

Current federal law prohibits selling these animals for slaughter to nations where horse meat is commonly used for human consumption, although pending legislation in Congress could relax these restrictions.

The Utah ranchers, angry with BLM requests that they slash their cattle’s time on the public rangelands, formed the Western Rangeland Conservation Association in 2014, pooling their money to bring the lawsuit. The Utah Farm Bureau Federation, national Public Lands Council and Iron and Beaver counties all pledged financial support and filed amicus briefs, while the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign intervened on the BLM’s side.

The ranchers’ suit sought to compel removals from particular management areas where horse numbers exceed designated “appropriate management levels,” or AMLs, which set high and low target populations. In Utah and many other Western states, horse numbers chronically remain two to three times the upper limits of AML, creating endless conflict with the ranchers who hold grazing allotments in those areas and their allies on rural county commissions…(CONTINUED)

http://www.sltrib.com/home/5501502-155/judge-rejects-utah-ranchers-plea-to

The High Cost of Cheap Grazing on Public Land

 

Private “Welfare Cattle” being herded onto BLM Antelope Complex in Nevada, while Wild Horse roundup was being conducted ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

by Andy Kerr, Public Lands Blog

“Bovine bulldozers have caused more harm to the public lands than mining or logging…”

It costs more to feed a domestic house cat than to graze domestic livestock on federal public lands.

This has generally been the case since the early 1900s, when the federal government first required ranchers to pay a fee for grazing their livestock on millions of acres of federal land, primarily in western states.

Each January the USDA Forest Service and the USDI Bureau of Land Management calculate what the federal grazing fee will be for that year. For 2017, it’s $1.87/animal unit month (AUM), down from $2.11/AUM in 2016. An AUM is the amount of forage that a cow and calf can eat in one month. This below-market subsidized federal grazing fee applies only to the eleven western states. Fees for grazing on National Forest System lands in the Midwest and East are closer to market value.

The federal land management agencies calculate the fee based on an arcane formula that favors the federal grazing permittee at the expense of the federal taxpayer. The formula was in the Public Rangelands Improvement (sic) Act of 1978 (PRIA). That statute expired in 1985, but on Valentines Day in 1986 President Reagan issued an executive order that made the formula live on. The PRIA formula considers current private land grazing lease rates (though obviously not that much, as we shall see), beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production, all indexes compiled by the USDA. Because these indexes as used in the grazing fee formula could result in the grazing fee approaching $0/AUM, a floor of $1.35/AUM was included to prevent such an acute embarrassment.

While some argue that grazing uses federal land productively and that the grazing fee is fair, others argue that grazing damages public resources and that grazing fees are too low. When the Government Accountability Office looked into the matter in 2005, it found that the federal government recovered in fees less than one-sixth of what it expended on public lands grazing. And the Center for Biological Diversity estimated that in 2013 on average, the federal grazing fee was 6.72 percent of the price of non-irrigated forage from private lands.

In every state, the gap between the federal grazing fee and market prices for private land forage is stark and getting worse each year. We know this because each January, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) publishes its estimate of private non-irrigated grazing fees for the previous year (see Figure 1). For instance, in Oregon in 2015, the private grazing fee was estimated to be $16.50/AUM, and in 2016, $17.00/AUM.

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

Welfare ranchers (a.k.a. federal grazing permittees) argue that it’s unfair to compare the federal grazing fee with the NASS fees and assert that the PRIA formula does approximate fair market value. They argue that on private lands, certain bovine amenities such as trough water and fences are routinely provided by the private landowner. In contrast, they say, they may have to haul their own water to federal lands, and livestock on the federal lands are more at risk of being eaten by wolves, bears, cougars, coyotes, and the like. (Hell, predators have to eat, don’t they?).

Does the PRIA formula in fact approximate fair market value? According to Wikipedia, fair market value (FMV) is “an estimate of the market value of a property, based on what a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured buyer would probably pay to a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured seller in the market.” Grazing fees don’t represent the fair market value of the forage because the federal land management agencies are pressured sellers—Congress requires the federal government to lose money on the endeavor.

The best way to determine the fair market value of federal grazing permits would be to auction them in a fair market. However, federal law limits federal grazing permits and leases to those in the livestock business, and there is no bidding among them. Once federal grazing permittees obtain their federal permit, either by inheritance or purchase, it’s generally theirs until they die or sell it.

Ensuring that the federal government received fair market value for the grazing of livestock would help defray the federal deficit, but do little to help public lands. Alas, most permittees would pay the higher fee (though griping a lot), as the cost of federal forage isn’t a particularly large portion of the cost of a ranch operation.

Bovine bulldozers have caused more harm to the public lands than mining or logging. The damage is harder for the public to see, as livestock grazing has been a chronic assault on the environment since the mid-1800s, rather than the acute assault of a clear-cut or a strip mine.

My honest opinion? The only proper grazing fee for federal public lands is actually $0/AUM, since there should be no grazing on federal public lands.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service estimate of private non-irrigated grazing fees for 2015 and 2016.

[To learn more, see Grazing Fees: Overview and Issues by the Congressional Research Service. To learn way more, see Cost and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands by the Center for Biological Diversity.]

http://www.andykerr.net/kerr-public-lands-blog/2017/5/26/the-high-cost-of-cheap-grazing

Range Riders-a false solution for predator-livestock conflicts

By as published on Wildlife News

“…these conservation groups conveniently ignore and fail to inform their membership and media of the multiple ways that livestock production harms wildlife, and ecosystems, no doubt while receiving big donations for their silence. They are, thus, directly culpable for helping to continue the livestock hegemony and destruction of our public lands.”

Private Cattle being herded onto public land at Antelope AS wild horses are being stampeded away ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Tom Sawyer would be proud of the “progressive” livestock producers who “love” predators.  These ranchers are continuously held up as a “win-win demonstrations” by collaborating so-called conservation groups who promote these operations as examples of how wildlife and ranching can co-exist.

You know the names, in part, because there are so few of them around the West that the same operations are continuously written up in the media and promoted by conservation groups-Malpai Borderlands group in Arizona and New Mexico, Lava Lake Land and Livestock Company in Idaho, JBarL in Montana’s Centennial Valley, and the Tom Miner Association adjacent to Yellowstone National Park.

The problem is that all these feel-good examples have two problems.

One they are the exceptions, not the rule. In all cases, they are livestock operations owned by wealthy individuals or those who have some connection to wealth. As a result, they can implement management practices that cannot be scaled up across the landscape. The Malpai had the support of the late Drum Hadley, Anheuser-Busch beer heir. Lava Lakes is owned by Brian and Kathleen Bean, who live in San Francisco where Brian is an investment banker. The B Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin is owned by Mary Ann Mott of Mott Applesauce fame. And the JBarL is owned by Peggy Dulany, heir to the Rockefeller fortune.

The sad thing about all these ranching operations is that the owners are wealthy enough that they don’t need to run livestock at all—likely it is a tax write off.  Indeed, if they were truly interested in helping wildlife instead of promoting the cowboy myth, they would volunteer to retire their public lands grazing allotments and contribute their vast fortunes towards retiring other grazing allotments.

Some of their holdings are substantial—the Bean’s Lava Lakes ranching operation includes 24,000 acres of private lands and controls over 900,000 acres of public lands allotments. Imagine if they retired their grazing allotments instead of running vast herds of sheep on them.

Instead, these “progressive” ranching operations are fawned upon by conservation organizations and receive numerous accolades and promotions of their livestock products (higher priced “grass fed beef and/or lamb). This includes groups like NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Audubon, and the Nature Conservancy, among others.

All the while these conservation groups conveniently ignore and fail to inform their membership and media of the multiple ways that livestock production harms wildlife, and ecosystems, no doubt while receiving big donations for their silence. They are, thus, directly culpable for helping to continue the livestock hegemony and destruction of our public lands.

It would analogous to the American Cancer Society promoting filtered cigarettes arguing that they were slightly healthier than unfiltered smokes, and failing to acknowledge that cigarette smoking was a major cause of cancer.

To give an example of this collusion between ranchers and so-called conservation groups, I recently received an email about a “Range Rider” program at the Anderson Ranch in Tom Miner Basin (link here https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e8f5b5d8e3&view=att&th=15b71e2eda289a5f&attid=0.1&disp=safe&realattid=f_j1jblcbx0&zw).

For a mere $600 you can ride a horse around in the mountains, and for dinner eat grass fed beef of animals you helped to keep out of the mouth of a wolf or grizzly.

You will learn how to harass predators like grizzlies and wolves so the ranchers can continue to run livestock on our public lands with a minimum of losses from predators.

In addition, there is the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get knowing that, according to the ranch website, range riders help the ranch document predator losses so they can obtain more money from the state predator reimbursement program (again why do wealthy people need our tax dollars to maintain their ranching operations).

The people who fall for this gimmick no doubt believe they are saving predators. That is the message that supporting national organizations like NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife try to put forth.  Want to save wolves—come help harass public wildlife so that ranchers won’t kill them.

Unfortunately, the Anderson Ranch and supporting so called wildlife groups are perpetuating wildlife conflicts, not ultimately eliminating them.

Keep in mind that cattle and/or sheep grazing on public lands are consuming forage that would feed elk and other native wildlife which is the food base for native predators. Funny how TNC, GYC, DOW and NRDC and other groups never mention this as a cost of public lands livestock operations.

The mere presence of livestock socially displaces native wildlife like elk which avoid areas actively being grazed by domestic animals. And therefore, are pushed into less suitable habitat. Again, this harms the natural prey of predators like wolves and grizzlies. Again, no mention of this by the collaborating groups.

Nor do these so-called wildlife groups point out that you as a range rider are there to harass predators so someone’s private livestock (like the Anderson Ranch) can profit from public lands, while native predators like wolves and grizzlies are displaced from their natural habitat.

These groups also don’t mention the collateral damage from livestock. The spread of weeds. The soil compaction. The pollution of waterways from manure. The destruction of biocrusts. The spread of disease from domestic animals to wildlife. The trampling of riparian areas. The fences that block wildlife migration. The hay fields that require irrigation which drains our rivers and destroys aquatic ecosystems.

And I have yet to see any of these groups drawing the connection between livestock methane production and global warming.

Indeed, I would venture to bet that these so-called “wildlife friendly” ranch operations have these impacts—which overall are far worse for the ecological health of our public lands than the loss of an occasional wolf or bear—regrettable as that may be…(CONTINUED)

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2017/04/17/range-riders-a-false-solution-for-predator-livestock-conflicts/

Utah Flips-Off Feds by Voting To Butcher Protected American Wild Horses

By | The Salt Lake Tribune

Subsidized Welfare Cattle Okay – Federally Protected Wild Equines to be Slaughtered

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Federal management of wild horses has been a dismal failure, resulting in ecological and economic havoc on Utah’s public ranges, according to new legislation that seeks repeal of the 1971 statute protecting free-roaming horses and burros.

Two bills and an appropriation request promote state management that envisions sharply reducing horse numbers through slaughter and permanent sterilization — measures sure to draw stiff opposition from horse advocates.

But Utah lawmakers and county commissioners are fed up with the Bureau of Land Management‘s approach, which they say allows horses to proliferate at the expense of range health, livestock operators and native wildlife while wasting $50 million a year confining horses that could be slaughtered for their meat.

“The fragmentation coming out of D.C. is tremendous,” Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, told the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Committee on Wednesday. “This is a hell for the ecosystem, it’s is a hell for the wildlife species, it’s is a hell for those on the ground who are told the solution is to cut back their livelihoods and their herds. It’s a hell for the animals themselves; they are starving and dying. Clearly we can do this better.” Ivory is the sponsor of HCR22, a resolution calling on the federal government to either take immediate steps to “humanely preserve the feral horse and burro populations in the West at established population management objectives” or cede that authority to the state.

Horse advocates reject the premise of this measure, which is one component of a package of legislative actions targeting wild horse management.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, is seeking $1.1 million to manage Utah’s 19 herds, whose population now exceeds 5,000, or about 2½ times the BLM’s target. He is also sponsoring a bill that lays out a state management plan. Stratton and others have made it clear state management could entail slaughtering horses, but horse advocates say such proposals would face a buzz saw of controversy.

“Utah is a beautiful state. I would hate to see it get a black eye with these crazy inhumane plans,” said filmmaker Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation and member of the BLM’s wild horse advisory board. “You would have to have the law changed where Utah is this special place where they get management and their plan is to kill them. That’s jumping through an awfully narrow hoop. It irks me that they are so blind to the benefits [of free-roaming horses] and can’t see beyond their ignorance. They are so out of step with what the American public wants. When you talk about killing healthy animals and trafficking them to Mexico, it’s just disgusting.”

But lethal population control is in line with positions advocated by Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke as well as the BLM advisory panel, which urged the agency last September to offer “all suitable animals in long- and short-term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.” Advisory panel members said they were not endorsing slaughter for meat, but after a negative public reaction, the BLM pledged it would not destroy healthy horses and burros.

Ironically, Utah’s new legislative push comes as the BLM conducts its most aggressive roundups in Utah in years. Last month, 700 horses from the Sulphur herd were gathered in Beaver County and the agency is currently rounding up the Cedar Mountain herd west of Tooele. So far, 534 horses have been gathered with a goal of 600 to 700. In both these gathers, the BLM planned to administer a fertility vaccine to 200 mares and return them to the range with an equal number of stallions. That decision prompted a lawsuit from Beaver County, alleging the BLM should not return horses to the Sulphur herd area, where horse numbers still exceed the “appropriate management level.”

The Utah operations deploy birth control known as PZP-22, which activates the immune system to thwart conception. This drug is effective for a year or two, and Utah lawmakers want to see something longer lasting. In addition to lethal measures, Ivory’s resolution calls for scaled-up use of GnRH-based vaccines, a new fertility-control technology that “can permanently sterilize a young horse by inhibiting the hormones that would make it sexually mature.”

Most horse-advocacy groups endorse PZP, but that is not the case with GnRH, or GonaCon, which they say has not been proven safe…(CONTINUED)

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4967398-155/utah-lawmakers-the-time-has-come?ref=yfp

Welfare Ranching Grazing Fee Drops in 2017, Further Undervaluing Public Lands

Source: The Wildlife News

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,”

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The public lands management agencies announced the grazing fee for federal allotments today, which the federal government has decreased to a mere $1.87 per cow and her calf (or 5 sheep) per month, known as an Animal Unit Month, or AUM.

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Our public lands are a national treasure that should be protected for future generations with responsible stewardship. It makes no sense to rent them to ranchers for below-market prices to prop up a dying industry that degrades soil productivity, water, wildlife habitat, and the health of the land.”

Two hundred and twenty million acres of public lands in the West are used for private livestock industry profits through the management of approximately 22,000 grazing permits. The low fee leaves the federal program at an overwhelming deficit. This year’s fee is a a decrease of 11 percent from last year’s fee of $2.11 per AUM far less than the average cost for private lands grazing leases.  The fee is calculated using a decades-old formula that takes into account the price of fuel and the price of beef, and this year’s fee falls far below the level of $2.31 per AUM that was charged in 1980. Additionally, the fee doesn’t cover the cost to taxpayers of range infrastructure, erosion control, vegetation manipulation, and government predator killing – all indirect subsidies that expand the program’s total deficit.

“The subsidy to public lands livestock grazers just got bigger,” Molvar said. “It’s a totally unjustified handout that persists for purely political reasons, with little or no benefit to Americans.”

Can Utah’s Mike Noel Run the BLM, an Agency He Despises?

By | The Salt Lake Tribune

“The BLM manages some of the America’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, landscapes that are integral to outdoor recreation, sportsmen, biodiversity, and native Americans’ and America’s high quality of life,”

As Utah state Rep. Mike Noel actively courts support for his bid to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management, conservation and outdoor business interests are questioning the Kanab lawmaker’s ability to effectively run an agency he has relentlessly condemned since quitting it 20 years ago.

“The BLM manages some of the America’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, landscapes that are integral to outdoor recreation, sportsmen, biodiversity, and native Americans’ and America’s high quality of life,” said Black Diamond Equipment founder Peter Metcalf. “We need a BLM leader aligned with this mission, one who recognizes the role these well-stewarded landscapes play in the vibrancy of one of America’s most important and sustainable economic sector.”

“Mike Noel,” Metcalf said, “is the opposite.”

The retired CEO joined 15 other Utah business leaders and conservationists in penning a letter to the Trump administration opposing Noel’s possible selection as BLM director.

An influential Republican, Noel has staked his political career on challenging federal land management and sparring with environmentalists and Salt Lake Democrats over limiting resource extraction to protect Utah’s striking red rock landscapes, wildlife, rivers and archaeological resources. Noel believes such limits do more to harm the land than protect it and suck the life out of rural communities that traditionally rely on access to forage, timber and minerals.

Noel did not respond to a request for comment.

Several Utah agencies and political leaders. meanwhile, have eagerly lined up behind his BLM candidacy.

The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration also sent a letter to the Trump transition team calling Noel an “excellent choice.” Most of SITLA’s 3.2 million acres are 640-acre islands scattered in a sea of federal lands. BLM policies complicate SITLA’s efforts to generate revenue off these isolated sections, according to the Nov. 18 letter signed by trust lands board Chairman James Lekas.

“We look forward to working with a Department of Interior led by people who can change the direction of public lands management back toward BLM’s traditional multiple use mandate,” Lekas wrote. “Rep. Noel would be a great addition to that team.”

If Noel has his druthers, the BLM would no longer exist as an agency, at least in Utah, where he is leading the state’s charge to seize title to 31 million acres of public land — most of it administered by BLM.

But worse from environmentalists’ perspective is Noel’s unwillingness to engage with stakeholders who disagree with his notion of “multiple use.”

In recent years, Noel has promoted the ideas that law enforcement on pubic lands should be overseen by county sheriffs; Utah should invest millions of dollars in a lawsuit to take title to the lands owned by all Americans; grazing and energy extraction are the best uses of places that others value for scenery and ancient American Indian artifacts; the state should cover legal costs of county commissioners who get in trouble standing up to federal authority on behalf of their constituents.

“Rep. Noel has also demonstrated his disregard for the thoughtfully and collaboratively crafted management plans of the Bureau he hopes to direct, instead throwing his support behind illegal protests on BLM land and the extraction companies that hope to expand their activities on public lands to the detriment of the protection and other uses of those lands,” states the conservationists’ letter, sent Wednesday by Alliance for a Better Utah to Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke. “His history strongly suggests that he will not be a good steward over these public lands that all Americans use and enjoy.”

Noel, who runs a ranch and the Kane County Water Conservancy District, worked as a realty specialist in BLM’s Kanab field office before leaving after the 1996 designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. A former colleague in the Kanab office contends Noel is the wrong person to lead BLM because of “his disdain for federal government management and his personal and biased agenda.”

“The next BLM director will need to ensure the BLM mission to provide enduring values and uses of those lands is sustained. Noel does not have that vision and is not that leader,” wrote Verlin Smith, now retired and living in Murray, in a letter to the editor.

Noel has since become a leading extremist in the movement to blunt conservation prerogatives on public lands, according to Metcalf, and in the process has earned a reputation as a dogmatic bully.

“This intransigent nature would hamper Rep. Noel in performing the duties that come with being BLM director, which include balancing all of the competing needs and uses that arise in managing our vast public lands,” the letter states.

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4858088-155/can-utahs-mike-noel-run-the