February 15, 2004
Feb. 2004 -- New proposed grazing regulations could improve grazing management and help sustain ranching on public lands. The Department of the Interior?s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published the proposed regulations and request for comments in the Dec. 8, 2003, Federal Register.
?We are grateful to the Administration for the attention it is paying to the issues important to our members,? says Jeff Eisenberg, executive director of the Public Lands Council and director of federal lands for the National Cattlemen?s Beef Association.
The BLM says it is hopeful the new regulations will improve grazing management and help continue public lands ranching in the rural West. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, during a recent speech in New Mexico, said the proposal recognizes the economic and social benefits of public lands ranching, as well as its preservation of open space in the rapidly growing West.
Public lands grazing plays an important role in many rural economies.
?Public lands grazing helps economically support individual families and communities where ranching is important,? says Eisenberg.
In addition, the preservation of rural landscapes and open space native to the West is at issue. The American Farmland Trust reports that 11 percent of all prime ranchland in the Rocky Mountain West, which translates into nearly 9 million acres, is threatened by conversion to development by 2020.
?Ranching is one of the recognized uses of our public lands,? Eisenberg says. ?We?re hopeful the regulatory system put in place will recognize the contributions of public lands ranching on Western economies and to the management of the lands themselves.?
A fact sheet on the BLM?s proposed grazing rule can be accessed at http://www.blm.gov/nhp/news/releases/pages/2003/pr031205_grazing.htm#factsheet
The comment period will close on Feb. 6, 2004. Comments can be submitted to: www.blm.gov/grazing