HTML _ IB96006 - Grazing Fees and Rangeland Management
4-Dec-1998; Betsy Cody, Pamela Baldwin; 11 p.

Abstract: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM, Department of the Interior) and the Forest Service (Department of Agriculture) manage approximately 70% of the 650 million acres of land owned by the federal government and many of these lands are classified as rangeland. Both agencies have well-established programs permitting private livestock grazing. The Administration issued new, controversial BLM rangeland management rules effective in August 1995. Supporters contended that the Administration's new rules were a step forward in sound resource management, but some believed they did not go far enough to protect rangelands and riparian areas. Many in the ranching community opposed the new rules, believing that they would ultimately reduce private livestock activity on federal lands, and increase operating costs. Efforts were made in the 104th Congress and the 105th Congress to override the new regulations. The House during the 105th Congress passed a scaled-back version of a grazing bill (H.R. 2493) reported from the House Agriculture and the House Resources Committees. The House-passed version of H.R. 2493 eliminated several controversial provisions, including definitions on allotments and base property. Some felt these definitions might be construed to create property rights in federal range permits. The provisions on access across private lands, and those on resource advisory councils, also were dropped, together with most of the provisions on subleasing. Provisions addressing compliance of grazing agreements with applicable laws and charging higher grazing fees to foreign individuals or corporations were added. The bill also directed consistent and coordinated grazing management by the Forest Service and BLM (except for the National Grasslands), established a new grazing fee formula, and addressed monitoring. The bill passed the House October 30, 1997, by a vote of 242-182. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reported H.R. 2493 without amendment on July 29, 1998. There was no further Senate action. Several court rulings have also addressed federal grazing management. On June 12, 1996, a federal district court struck down several of the new BLM regulations and upheld others. The court affirmed in part the Secretary's decision to implement the 1995 regulations and reversed it in part, enjoining the Secretary from enforcing the regulations the court set aside. On appeal, the 10th Circuit upheld the regulations on title to range improvements and on grazing preferences, but struck down the regulation allowing conservation use over the full term of a permit. Other cases have addressed the issuance of grazing permits or leases where grazing activities may conflict with state water quality standards or protection of endangered species. The impact from these cases is less clear. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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