June 15, 2007
June 15, 2007 - Livestock grazing, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service across the West, is an important cornerstone of the livestock industry, the western way of life and the nation's rural economy. Ranchers who are permitted to graze livestock on federal lands undergo lengthy environmental assessment and forage management planning processes. In order to operate their businesses, public lands ranchers depend upon the efficient administration of grazing permits.
Last July, the BLM revised its grazing regulations to represent an important effort to restore the balance between resource protection and the interests of those who make a living from the land. However, a lawsuit was filed in Idaho District court by activist environmental groups that have chosen to sue the BLM over these revisions in an effort to use the judicial system to enact their biased agenda. The Public Lands Council (PLC) then filed as an intervener in the suit, on behalf of the BLM, and has been actively arguing for the interests of ranchers throughout the case.
On June 8, 2007, Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued his ruling, which was heavily in favor of the environmentalists and enjoins the BLM's revisions, preventing their implementation. PLC is disappointed with Judge Winmill's ruling in this case and is reviewing the published decision and considering future legal action.
"This is a backwards step for the administration of grazing on public lands," said G. David Nelson, president of the PLC. "The grazing regulations represent an effort by the BLM and Bush Administration to balance the interests of resource protection and the people who make a living on the land."
These revisions were an attempt by the agency to increase efficiency while protecting the precious resources under its management. Livestock producers support these changes to allow BLM managers to spend less time on paperwork and more time actively managing the land.
"In his opinion, Judge Winmill wrote that the regulations make 'no improvement' to previous policy and serve to weaken restrictions on grazing," explained Nelson. "(This) ruling rolls back the practical improvements made by the BLM to manage the nation's public lands under the agency's multiple-use sustained yield mandate. PLC will be reviewing the judge's ruling and considering future action to promote and maintain a stable regulatory regime in which our members can operate economically profitable ranches on public lands."