The Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Sheep Industry Association and the Association of National Grasslands posted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service Proposed Rule, Appeal of Decisions Relating to Occupancy or Use of National Forest System Lands and Resources.
Members of these organizations rely on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to manage federal grazing permits on National Forest System (NFS) lands across the West. They also rely on a fair and balanced appeals process for decisions made by the agency.
The groups strongly encourage the USFS to use this as an opportunity to update the regulations currently controlling the appeals process by shifting the responsibility to the National Appeals Division (NAD) of USDA or the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). The NAD and OHA are divisions of USDA and DOI and operate independently of the agencies decision-making process. Thus, they are equipped for unbiased reviews. It is imperative that a third party be responsible for hearing appeals of agency decisions to provide for a fair, efficient and transparent process.
The secondary beneficiaries of the USFS' compliance with a fair appeals process are the many rural economies in the West, which benefit from a strong and stable grazing program on NFS lands. Lastly, the forest service's ability to provide range resources and to manage for sustainable and healthy forest lands is integral to successful operations of the livestock associations' members.