GRAZING THAT WORKS
WLA LEADS THE WAY
SUBMITTED TO THE BUREAU
Collaborative Letter on Revisions to BLM Grazing Regulations
Lands managed under the jurisdiction of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are an integral part of conservation and livestock operations on western landscapes and the BLM is a key partner in their health and productivity. The undersigned groups agree that successful stewardship, conservation and management is achievable when the BLM, grazing permittees and lessees and invested stakeholders work together as partners, focused on shared and synergistic goals: ecosystem health, fish and wildlife habitat and sustainable livelihoods that support resilient rural communities and food and fiber systems. Grazing regulations that work well provide flexibility and resources to meet those goals across large landscapes of matrixed ownership including private, state and federal lands, while valuing economic stability of permittees and rural communities.
BLM is currently revising its grazing regulations. This is a rare opportunity for a win-win.
This is an opportunity for BLM to adopt limited, durable, and strategic revisions to the regulations that better allow all partners to optimize ecological and economic benefits for the American public.
The coalition agrees on the importance of reflecting concretely these shared values in any revisions to the grazing regulations:
1. PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY IN RESOURCE AND LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT
To truly manage for ecological and economic health, the BLM should further promote flexibility in livestock management. The rigidity of existing plans and prescriptive nature of federal programs often prevent managers and producers from responding quickly to the inter-annual variation common in western landscapes. By developing plans tiered to outcomes rather than tied to rulesets, producers can adapt management while meeting rangeland health objectives.
2. OPTIMIZING FORAGE UTILIZATION
Current regulations trap graziers in use-it-or-lose-it management patterns that harm the resource and prevent adaptive management. Resting an allotment, in whole or in part, should be encouraged if doing so benefits the resource and/or the permittee. By acting in the best interest of the resource, permittees should not risk losing their preference or access. At the same time, protections are needed to ensure temporary non-use does not erode the role of these pastures as working grazing lands and the long-term ecological value of grazing on these lands by becoming permanent.
3. ENSURING USE OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF RANGELAND HEALTH
The Fundamentals of Rangeland Health (Fundamentals) are foundational range management principles for the Bureau that should guide all management decisions and apply to all permitted users of BLM lands.
We ask the BLM to reinforce their importance by including language in the regulations of other permitted uses, including grazing, to the requirements of these Fundamentals. Doing so will 1) reinforce their application at watershed or other appropriate landscape scales; 2) help better distinguish the impacts (beneficial, neutral and detrimental) of one use from another, and; 3) create room for broader application of flexible and adaptive management to adjust use as conditions and circumstances require.
Finally, we encourage the federal government to match the mission with the resources required to achieve it. We believe improving the current regulations can create better outcomes for people, the environment and all uses of our public lands. It is essential that the BLM utilize its funding to hire, train and retain a talented workforce capable of fulfilling obligations to manage for rangeland health and provide for flexibility within livestock grazing permits and leases.
Building a broad coalition to improve stewardship on public lands through sustainable and adaptive grazing management.
The following organizations (alphabetical order) signed our collaborative letter to the BLM. But there is still time to join our advocacy effort! Contact us below.
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
California Rangeland Conservation Coalition
Malpai Borderlands Group
National Association of Conservation Districts
North American Grouse Partnership
National Audubon Society
Public Lands Foundation
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
Society for Range Management
The Nature Conservancy
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
United States Cattlemen’s Association
Utah Association of Conservation Districts
Western Landowners Alliance
World Wildlife Fund
Join the Coalition
If your organization shares our goals to improve the flexibility and effectiveness of BLM grazing regulations, please contact WLA policy director Zach Bodhane to discuss how you can help.
Making recommendations through compelling stories and voices.
By sharing the latest science, best practices, and leading voices on range management directly with the Bureau, we are helping them form regulations that optimize ecological and economic benefits for the American public.
Are you a BLM permittee with a story to tell?
How were you able to improve stewardship, land health, conservation, their bottom line within existing regulations? How have the current regulations been barriers to improved stewardship or adaptive management? We would love to share your story with the Bureau as we help them update these regulations. Send us a few sentences and we'll be in touch before we do anything with it.