The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the Wyoming Wool Growers Association signed on to a letter supporting the Grazing Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 1129), which was introduced on Thursday by Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Thune (S.D.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Michael Crapo (Idaho). The legislation is designed to improve livestock grazing permitting on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands.
The act will extend BLM and USFS livestock grazing permits from 10 years to 20 years without changing current authority to make interim permit management decisions for grazing allotments. It would codify appropriation rider language to require expired grazing permits to be renewed under existing terms and conditions until the renewal process is complete and would allow the secretary to issue a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act if the decision by the agency is to continue current grazing management under the permit. Finally, the act would provide for a stay of decision by the appropriate secretary regarding grazing permits or leases except in situations where an emergency regarding the deterioration of resources exists.
Without this bill, permit holders are at the mercy of year-to-year appropriation bills. Such reforms will provide greater certainty and stability to the livestock grazing community in the face of constant environmental legal challenges.