Guardian members told to get involved, be heard
Worland – “There are people who work 24 hours a day to put you out of business. Not because it makes sense, and not because it helps the environment, but because they think it will. They don’t recognize the benefits of livestock production,” said Harriet Hageman, attorney with Hageman and Brighton Law Office, at the Feb. 2 annual meeting of the Guardians of the Range (Guardians).
Over 60 people attended the meeting in Worland where Hageman encouraged attendees to get involved, and producers who graze livestock on state and federal permits to defend those permits.
Hageman & Brighton represented Wyoming in State of Wyoming v. United States Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service, Ann Veneman, and Dale Bosworth regarding the defendants’ adoption of the “Roadless Rule. “Fifty-eight point five million acres were off-limits with the Roadless Rule. The public submitted 1.2 million comments and 99 percent of those supported the Rule, but there were 65,000 substantive comments from Wyoming. Judge Brimmer wanted to know what Wyoming people thought. Those letters were critical, and we won. It is absolutely critical for your voice to be heard. You’ve got to comment on plans and get involved,” Hageman emphasized.
“The reality is we’re right,” Hageman continued. “You’re the ones who are protecting the environment; you are the best environmentalists. Protect your rights and get involved.”
Maggie Beal, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator John Barrasso in Washington, D.C. said, “Senator Barrasso understands it’s tough to run a small business, and if you’re business as a rancher is not viable, you’ll be in the business of subdividing.” Beal said Barrasso has worked on the farm bill, which includes country of origin labeling and creates a permanent disaster program for all of agriculture. “The Senator is working to create a platform for you to stay in business.”
“When a bill comes up, he asks his legislative assistants, ‘How can we make this work for Wyoming?’” Beal said she does the research, and calls organizations and individuals in Wyoming to find out their stands on the issues.
“The average agriculture producer underestimates the affect you can have on the process by contacting us. I do this for a living. I work for you. You should call or e-mail me and other legislative assistants. Tell us what you think and why.” She continued, “The heads of agencies and departments are appointed by the President. Call or write them. Don’t be afraid, because they work for you, too. They will help you if they have the statutory ability to do so.”
Mike Phillips, Assistant Field Manager for Resources in the Worland BLM office discussed rangelands, including what he believes makes a good range manager. “Keeping the lines of communication open is very important,” Phillips commented. “Becoming a member of professional and technical societies and sharing ideas is important, as well as spending time on the ground, having a willingness to work and not being afraid to make mistakes and move forward,” added Phillips.
The BLM has a range improvement fund that comes from AUM fees. Phillips said about $145,000 is available for range improvement projects including vegetation management, fences, wells, springs and weed control.
Guardians is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to sound science and community partnership in public land management. They address grazing issues on behalf of permittees on the Shoshone & Bighorn national forests and the Cody and Worland BLM resource management areas.
For more information, contact Kathleen Jachowski, Executive Director of Guardians of the Range at 307-587-3723, Mike Phillips at the Worland BLM Office at 307-347-5100, Harriet Hageman with Hageman & Brighton Law Office in Cheyenne at 307-638-4888 or Maggie Beal at Senator John Barrasso’s Washington D.C. Office at 202-224-6441 or www.barrasso.senate.gov.
Echo Renner is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.