Information Access for Rangeland Permits and Management
Many WLA members and landowners throughout the West have grazing leases on Federal lands. There is a great deal of available information regarding these leases and management of your leases—but it isn’t necessarily easy to find. Both the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have most of this information available online and available to lessees and the public.
WLA staff have researched both agency websites. In the following pages, we have summarized many of the key resources available to you online to make it easier for you to access the in-depth information you need. Many of you already know the rangeland specialists in your area and the importance of building and maintaining those relationships. Our goal with this article is to give you all easier, quicker access to information that may be helpful to you in the day-to-day leasing and management of your federal leases.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Website
Laws and Regulations
The BLM laws and regulations are available HERE. This section provides access to the agency laws, rules, regulations, manuals, handbooks and policies by programs. For example, if a landowner wanted to take a deeper look into range management requirements, they could visit the BLM Manuals page, then select “Range Management.”
Each manual has an “Authorities Section” which you can use to track the law from which the manual and policies stem from. For example, MS-4100 Grazing Administration, under Range Management, has a table of contents that shows “Authorities” are listed in section .03.
From the laws and regulations page you can also view some of the existing laws guiding BLM or access their code of federal regulations in E-CFR (Electronic-code of federal regulations). This is published annually to reflect updated laws that the agency has promulgated regulations from. E-CFR will link you their most current Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. It is always prudent to check with BLM to make sure the CFR is current with agency rules and/or policies.
BLM Memorandums and Bulletins
BLM generates agency-wide instructions and guidance through Instruction Memorandums (IMs) and Instruction Bulletins (IBs). The “Laws and Regulations” page has a link to this page as well. You can use the search function by word, year or by geographic area.
Individual state offices occasionally develop IMs or IBs by program that tier to National guidance. Unfortunately, there is no universal, easy way to assure that all of them are posted and accessible. The best method to check is by calling your state office and asking the specialist if they have any additional state issued IMs or IBs for a particular topic that would give greater detail than the national guidance.
Public Data for Grazing Allotments
Another valuable database for landowners and producers is the BLM’s Reporting Application Data Base. This site will generate reports for individuals. For example, the “Rangeland Administration System” can produce a report for any specific BLM lease or permit holder.
BLM Planning and NEPA
The BLM ePlanning Project Search site tracks ongoing BLM planning, environmental impact statements and environmental analysis throughout the country. The key to this site is to first select either “Land Use Plan” or “NEPA,” then zoom in on your geographic area of interest until the numbered balloon becomes a BLM emblem. The site also allows you to select a specific year or current, active work.
You can click on the project or plan balloon that pops up and it will take you to the uploaded document. You will not be able to do a “key word search” but you will be able to see what activities, projects or plans are being considered on your lease or permit area.
Each state website also has good planning information including Resource Management Plans, large EIS project planning and other ongoing planning efforts. For example, the BLM New Mexico site has a Planning and NEPA section on their website. This information is important for landowners and permit holders to be aware of and engage with, particularly with Resource Management Plans that will set the stage for what type of activity will or will not be allowed and how those activities will be carried out on public lands throughout the area over 15-25 years.
United States Forest Service (USFS) Website
Laws and Regulations
The USFS Regulations & Policies site includes laws, regulations, rules, policies, manuals and more. It has key word search functionality at the top right-hand side of the page. The word search function is not limited to what is in this section of their website. For example, if you typed in “Range Management Planning,” it would give you options throughout the country. If you were to click on “Forest Service Manuals” it would give you a list of their manuals—which includes “2000-National Forest Resource Management” where you can then click on the Range Management manual.
You will have to click one additional time on the index of documents to access the range manual by section number. You can then toggle back and forth to know which section number corresponds with the topic you are interested in. Once you access the manual portion you want, there is a table of contents that helps you get to the portions you need. If you want to look at specific authorities cited in the manual you can access them from the regulations-policy “Laws and Regulations” page. This page will give you access to many of their key laws as well as the Code of Federal Regulations (3600 CFR).
Public Data for Grazing Allotments
Landowners who have a USFS lease or permit can access their individual grazing authorization documents by going to their corresponding National Forest website. For example, if you go to the Gila National Forest website, you will see on the right-hand side under the “Highlights” section a link for “2018 Annual Operating Instructions.” When you click on those operating instructions it will take you to a list of their grazing allotments by Ranger District. You can then click on the allotment of your choice and it will link the uploaded annual operating instructions for that allotment.
USFS Planning and NEPA
Each USFS Regional website has good Projects planning and NEPA information for landowners. You can access key planning/EIS efforts from this site. This information is important for landowners and permit holders to be aware of and engage with, particularly with Forest Management Plans that will set the stage for what type of activity will or will not be allowed and how those activities will be carried out on public lands throughout the area over 15-25 years. If you want to know about all planned projects and NEPA status you can click on the Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) under Related Links. It will take you to a National map where you can click on the state of your choice. From there you can click on a forest and then select a time period you are interested in. This will give you a listing of all the projects, a description and the type of NEPA analysis conducted or currently being conducted. To verify project status or if you don’t see a project on the list, it would be best to contact your local Ranger District to get more information.
Resources Cited in Order Mentioned
Bureau of Land Management
- Laws and Regulations: https://www.blm.gov/about/laws-and-regulations
- Manuals: https://www.blm.gov/policy/manuals
- M-4100 — Grazing Administration: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/uploads/mediacenter_blmpolicymanual4100.pdf
- Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c73e1f610011f3bdf5da5cb2d4f01dfc&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title43/43chapterII.tpl
- Instruction Memorandum: https://www.blm.gov/policy/instruction-memorandum
- Reporting Application Database: https://reports.blm.gov/
- ePlanning Project Search: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/lup/lup_register.do
- New Mexico Planning and NEPA: https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/plans-in-development/new-mexico
United States Forest Service
- Regulations & Policies: https://www.fs.fed.us/about-agency/regulations-policies
- Laws and Regulations: https://www.fs.fed.us/about-agency/regulations-policies/laws-regulations
- Gila National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/gila
- Gila NF Grazing Management: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gila/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=fseprd570887
- Projects Planning: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r3/landmanagement/projects
If this type of information is valuable to you, consider getting a WLA membership. Members receive our monthly Western Digest, which includes resources and information selected specifically for landowners and managers.
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