ASI Representatives Attend Annual PLC Meeting

American Sheep Industry Association president Mike Corn and Public Lands committee chair Steve Osguthorpe joined with other western ASI affiliates last week at the Public Lands Council annual meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz. The meeting featured speakers from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Senator Jeff Flake and Representative Paul Gosar from Arizona. Speaking to the group, Chief Tooke, who was recently selected to lead the U.S. Forest Service, stated his commitment to work with landowners and regional forest supervisors to break down barriers to public lands grazing on our nation's forest lands. Confronted by Wyoming Stock Grower executive and past ASI president Jim Magagna with a sizable printed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis, Chief Tooke said he would evaluate options to streamline the NEPA process and facilitate grazing opportunities.

The meeting also presented a chance for the officers of the Public Lands Council and the BLM to sign a memorandum of understanding for a Cooperative Monitoring program and roll out the demonstration phase of a new outcome-based grazing program. This program will set up six to twelve outcome-based authorizations in the next year, in which ranchers and agency officials will work together to achieve habitat and vegetation goals. If successful, this program could lead the way to greater input from sheep producers who utilize public lands on how those allotments should be managed for optimal results for domestic livestock, wildlife and range health.

Osguthorpe succeeded John Helle in filling ASI's position on both the PLC Board of Directors and the Public Lands Endowment Trust Board. A number of ASI state executives including Bonnie Brown from Colo., Amy Hendrickson from Wyo., and Brandy Kay from Idaho were also on hand to ensure issues from their states were represented at the meeting. Through the efforts of ASI and its state affiliates, the PLC updated and renewed its bighorn sheep policy, bringing it in line with ASI's policy and current science, and presented on a number of industry priorities throughout the meeting. The meeting concluded on Sunday, Sept. 24 with a range tour and spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.