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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Us Against Them

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

From the Publisher: Dennis Sun

For over three years, I have been concerned by what I’ve heard from the Biden administration on how they hoped to manage public lands in the West. I heard a lot of talk from the Department of Interior on how conservation was going to be considered a use like grazing, energy development and recreation. 

When the resource management plan came out of the Rock Springs Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Office, I sensed management on public lands was changing, and I was not too fond of the change.

The largest change I recognized was all of these decisions are coming from the White House, and while there has been time for the public to submit comments and input, their decisions are hard to change. I feel like these decisions were brought on by extreme animal rights and environmental groups who want all livestock, energy development and recreationists off of public lands.

Lately, with the BLM’s final Conservation and Landscape Health Rule and the agency’s newest sage grouse conservation draft plan, I realize there are some threats to my private lands and ranch as a whole. 

All my life, while using public lands for grazing, I have tried to build good relationships with the BLM and other agencies involved. I was always willing to change management tools on both my private and BLM lands and manage both for similar objectives and goals.

In regards to sage grouse, I realized I needed to be aware of the species’ needs and manage its habitat with care. In a sense, I felt some ownership of sage grouse. But today, with all of the potential restrictions coming my way, I feel my partial ownership has been taken away.

I woke up one morning a few years ago and realized my whole ranch was in a sage grouse core area, where some restrictions were placed on both my private and public lands. I wanted to do my part so went along with it, but it did stop some energy development. 

Everybody wants to place restrictions on grazing and energy to help the sage grouse, but a study conducted on the ranch not long ago proved 82 percent of nests found were predated. I realize the BLM only manages habitat, but they need to focus on predators to help sage grouse populations grow and prosper.

The biggest problem I have with these federal actions is the current administration wants state and local BLM offices to be the enforcers of rules, instead of federal land managers. I don’t think local BLM offices had much input on these draft plans.

I attended the last in-person public sage grouse meeting on the draft sage grouse action where state and local BLM personnel gave presentations. My read was they were not too happy being there. They must have felt threatened, as they had the local BLM ranger just outside of the door.

I hope users of public lands don’t blame local BLM offices for the administration’s actions and turn it into an us against them situation. I know our area has some of the best range cons in the West, as well as the best public lands.

We can only hope there will be a change in administration come November. This administration wants to manage public lands using areas of critical environmental concern, where they manage for a single use, which is not good. Multi-use management is always the best.

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