The House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources this week advanced the Grazing Improvement Act (H.R. 657) on a bipartisan vote of 27-15. The legislation, which seeks to improve the livestock grazing permitting processes on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, will now go to the full House for consideration.
H.R. 657 was introduced in February by Rep. Raúl Labrador (Idaho) as companion legislation to S. 258 in the Senate, also introduced in February by Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.). Public Lands Council Executive Director Dustin Van Liew said the Grazing Improvement Act will contribute greatly to providing a stable business environment to federal lands ranchers who face increasing uncertainty as to the future of their livestock grazing permits.
The legislation proposes to increase the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years, so that the burdens of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of expired permits will be reduced, thereby giving ranchers increased certainty that they may continue grazing and their operations will remain viable. Among other provisions to reduce the NEPA burden, the bill also proposes to codify longstanding appropriations language that would allow grazing to continue under existing terms and conditions while the NEPA backlog is being addressed.