Request BLM grazing permit renewal
Casper – Babbitt-era language is once again haunting western ranchers who utilize grazing permits on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but leaders of the state’s agricultural organizations say some simple steps can help.
According to Wyoming State Grazing Board Grazing Consultant Dick Loper, Congressional language set to expire Sept. 30, 2009 now allows the BLM to extend grazing until the federal government “gets its paperwork done.” In the absence of that language, Loper says grazing permit holders could lose their right to graze while the agency is undergoing its renewal process. BLM grazing permit holders whose leases expire in the next six months should have received a letter from the BLM asking them to fill out an application to renew their permits.
In a second letter Wyoming’s agricultural organizations are sending affected permit holders, they explain, “Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of Interior in the Clinton Administration 10 years ago, created a BLM Regulation which stated that your grazing permit would not be renewed for a new 10-year period of time if the BLM had not completed the paperwork he determined was required to renew your permits. In 1998, the U.S. Congress, at the request of the Wyoming and national livestock organizations, passed a law that overrode Secretary Babbitt’s Regulation on this issue and since that time ranchers have been able to continue to graze BLM allotments under current terms and conditions while the BLM completes the paperwork to provide you with a renewed term grazing permit.
“The Federal law which overrode Babbitt’s regulation expires on Sept. 30 of this year, and at this point in time, we can not be assured that it will be renewed by the U.S. Congress in time to keep your BLM grazing permits in active status. Babbitt’s regulation on this subject is still in effect, and the ‘Permit Renewal Application’ process now being implemented by the BLM will be the only way to keep your BLM grazing permits in active status if Congress does not extend this protection,” says Loper.
A tool offered by the Administrative Procedures Act, the application the letter refers to, does offer some reprieve. Permit holders whose grazing permits expire this year and request renewal of their permit prior to the end of September, are protected from the lapse in grazing rights. Loper says range conservationists across the state should have the necessary paperwork for interested permit holders.
In closing the letter from the state’s agricultural organizations advises, “The WSGB and the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, and Wyoming Farm Bureau are encouraging you to return the BLM grazing permit Renewal Application to the BLM as soon as possible after you get it from the BLM. We also suggest that you apply for the same terms and conditions now in your ten-year permit because any requests for changes at this time may complicate the renewal of your term permit.”
Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.