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Magagna discusses federal policy priorities during GRVCA meeting

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On March 2, Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna addressed attendees of the Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association (GRVCA) Annual Meeting, held at the Town Hall in Marbleton. 

Magagna noted during this session, the legislature’s main priority was to adopt a budget, which has since occurred in the past week. 

However, he also shared WSGA spent less time engaging in the budget discussion and more time supporting the association’s policy priorities at a state and national level. 

“At the federal level, things have been interesting, especially in the last six months,” he stated. “There has either been a new draft or final regulation of some kind coming down the pipe almost weekly. In fact, in one week I counted four of them in the natural resource arena alone.” 

Rock Spring RMP 

To start, Magagna discussed the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) controversial Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP), which was of particular concern to WSGA and garnered a lot of the association’s attention.

Magagna noted WSGA identified 25 items in the BLM’s preferred alternative that it viewed as a “direct threat over time to the continuation of livestock grazing on BLM lands.” 

“We provided a lot of comment, and I served on the governor’s task force, where we came up with over 100 recommendations,” he shared.

“BLM’s national director has given some assurance to the governor they are listening and there will be changes made, which is great, but whether enough changes will be made to make the Rock Springs RMP something we can live with in our state and our industry is something I remain skeptical about,” continued Magagna.

“I think the BLM does realize they have strong pushback,” he added. “But, whether they are willing to listen to it is an unanswered question.” 

At this point, Magagna noted the only thing left to do is to sit back and wait. 

Sage grouse, livestock grazing, endangered species

Additionally, Magagna mentioned the federal government’s revisions to the 2015 Sage Grouse Management Plan, which are set to be publicly released any day now. 

He noted, although WSGA hasn’t directly seen these revisions, a few of their cooperating agencies have. 

“From my understanding, there is an agreement they will release a specific plan for Wyoming like they did in the past – they won’t lump us in with all of the other states because we have an effective plan of our own in Wyoming,” he said. “We will see where it goes, but I think there is some hope there.” 

Magagna also noted the U.S. Forest Service has been in the process of revising their guidelines for grazing management for the past seven years, and they have recently released a few sections of their proposed changes. 

“To date, they are generally favorable, but the more important ones haven’t come out yet,” he said. “I had a conversation with them last week, and they are hopeful to get some more out before too long.” 

Magagna pointed out many of these revisions were made during the previous administration, so it is difficult to say what they might look like now. 

Circling back to the BLM, Magagna explained the agency made an announcement on Feb. 28 they are moving forward with some amendments to remove the administrative ability to use categorical exclusions for certain activities which have been in place for over a decade. 

“One of those they identified is removing the categorical exclusion for issuing livestock grazing permits, and it had us very concerned immediately,” he said. “There is some confusion out there that I am trying to track down – if it is the broad ability to renew and issue permits with categorical exclusions or it if is more narrowly focused.” 

“I have heard a little bit of both so we are continuing to work on it and find out what the implication might be,” he added. 

In the meantime, Magagna shared he has notified the governor’s office and Wyoming’s Congressional delegation and asked them to become engaged right away. 

Another issue WSGA has worked diligently on is the Endangered Species Act reform, which is currently underway. Magagna said WSGA has not seen these revisions, but they are concerned. 

Other litigation

To conclude, Magagna shared litigation WSGA has been involved in includes litigation for the Upper Green and the ongoing corner crossing case in Elk Mountain. 

“We are still waiting on action regarding the amicus briefs for litigation of the Upper Green from the 10th Circuit Court,” he stated. “The good news is the 10th Circuit Court denied the environmentalist request for a stay, but we are still concerned for it.” 

He noted it has been sent back to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for additional review, but WSGA is keeping a close eye on the case and is prepared to be involved on the litigation as long as may be necessary. 

“The other litigation we are involved in today is over the corner crossing situation – we have been involved in it from the very beginning,” he added. “It is now involved in the 10th Circuit Court as well.”

He continued, “We are not involved in terms of the particular facts of the case over at Elk Mountain, but rather our argument has been corner crossing is a private land issue, and as such, any decisions should be made by the Wyoming Supreme Court, not by federal courts or federal policy.” 

Magagna noted WSGA will continue to fight for this particular legislation as well. 

To read more on WSGA’s policy priorities at the state level, look back to the March 9 edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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