The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages livestock grazing on 155 million acres of federal public lands in 11 western states, has proposed grazing regulation revisions that will have significant environmental impacts across the west.
The BLM’s proposed changes to livestock grazing regulations could affect nearly 5 million acres of Wilderness across the West, including the habitat for numerous imperiled species such as grizzly bear, Mexican gray wolves, desert tortoise, sage grouse and black-footed ferret.
Among the most concerning proposals:
- BLM could adopt new regulations for informally addressing unauthorized grazing, meaning that instead of complying with existing regulations to document violations and assess penalties, the agency will likely come up with a way of hiding what it knows about grazing trespass or overuse, including within designated Wilderness.
- The agency wants to expand the use of categorical exclusions, rather than complete full and fair environmental analyses for grazing permits within Wilderness and public lands.
- A streamlined protests and appeal process by the agency to reduce timelines for public involvement, increase or codify exhaustion requirements, and to further limit public involvement in decisions regarding livestock grazing on public lands and within Wilderness.
- Removal of the current requirement to assess Land Health Standards on every grazing allotment as part of the permit renewal process. Already, the BLM has been failing to meet Land Health Standards on many, many public lands and Wilderness grazing allotments throughout the west, so instead of meeting the standards, the BLM plans to do away with the requirement.
- Expedited livestock grazing authorizations under the false narrative of grazing as “a tool to reduce wildfire” or to “improve rangeland conditions” when the science shows the opposite is true in almost all cases.
Grazing can’t be allowed to further degrade Wilderness and should be constrained so that wilderness conditions can improve.
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Photo: Cows and their damage in the North Mariposa Mountains Wilderness, Arizona, by George Wuerthner