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BLM announces new initiative to provide grazing flexibility

Written by Saige Albert

Washington, D.C. – On Sept. 22, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a new initiative designed to increase flexibility allotted to grazing permit holders in managing livestock. The effort is designed to promote President Donald Trump’s goal of promoting shared conservation stewardship of public lands.

“Farmers and ranchers know the wildlife and the land they work better than anyone. It only makes sense that we would enlist them in conservation efforts,” said Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “One of my top goals is for the government to be a better neighbor, land manager and partner.”

Zinke continued that the effort represents a great step toward working together, and he congratulated BLM for their innovation in this effort.

Program goals

The program, called Outcome-Based Grazing Authorizations, will work cooperatively with stakeholders to identify six to 12 grazing authorizations in its first year.

“Grazing authorizations typically emphasize process and prescription,” explained BLM. “The new authorizations will instead emphasize ecological outcomes, allowing livestock operators more flexibility to make adjustments in response to changing conditions, such as drought or wildland fire.”

The intent of the program is to better manage those livestock on public lands, allowing BLM and grazing permit holders to achieve natural resource goals and operational objectives.

“This initiative is in line with the administration’s priority of promoting shared stewardship of public lands and giving local stakeholders a say in how these lands are managed,” said Michael D. Nedd, acting BLM director.  “This demonstration project will allow permittees and BLM to work together more efficiently and effectively to support sustainable grazing operations.” 

Authorizations

The new authorization intends to emphasize conservation performance, ecological outcomes and cooperative management of public lands, according to BLM. They note that ranches will also be able to achieve greater opportunity for economically and environmentally sustainable operations.

“Through this new demonstration program, we plan to work with permit holders and other stakeholders to show that livestock grazing on public lands can operate under a more flexible framework than is commonly used to better reach agreed-upon habitat or vegetation goals,” BLM said.

BLM continued that they will work with partners in the grazing community to share experiences, best practices and assess their progress. These discussions will guide a decision as to whether additional outcome-based grazing authorizations can be successful in the future.

Industry comment

The livestock industry indicated overall optimism about the program.

“The livestock industry is thankful for the leadership of Secretary Zinke in establishing a demonstration program that allows flexibility in the ability to manage conditions on the ground,” said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “This decision ensures our public lands are managed in an efficient and sustainable way.”

The announcement also coincides with the execution of a Cooperative Monitoring Memorandum of Understanding between the Public Lands Council and BLM.

Permittees, lessees, rangeland ecologists and other stakeholders are all eligible for the program. Interested participants should contact their local BLM office. BLM plans to solicit project proposals through its state offices through Oct. 13.

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled several press releases in writing this article. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..