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Conservation Groups Want Deeper Dig on Cattle-Grazing Regs

The Bureau of Land Management wants to change regulations that govern livestock grazing in 11 states. (blm.gov)
The Bureau of Land Management wants to change regulations that govern livestock grazing in 11 states. (blm.gov)
February 27, 2020

LAS VEGAS Nev. - Conservation groups want the Bureau of Land Management to provide more time for the public to comment on proposed revisions to cattle grazing regulations on 155 million acres of public land.

Wilderness Watch is one of 37 conservation groups that submitted a letter to the BLM requesting an additional month for people to comment, and more public meetings beyond the four already held in remote locations.

George Nickas, policy coordinator with Wilderness Watch, says not enough comment time was provided on what he believes will be increased grazing and fewer environmental protections.

"It's just really unreasonable to expect most citizens, if they're interested, to be able to dig into what BLM's proposing," says Nickas.

The conservation groups have asked the BLM for an extension of the comment period until April 20. It's now set to expire March 10th. They also are requesting additional public meetings.

The agency has said its proposed revisions would improve its ability to steward the nation's rangeland resources by strengthening controls to prevent unauthorized grazing.

Currently, the BLM oversees livestock grazing in eleven states, and issues some 18,000 grazing permits. Its regulations haven't changed since the 1990s.

Nickas says if the agency eventually proposes sweeping changes, habitat for threatened and endangered species on those public lands would be affected.

"All that forage that's out there that cows and sheep are eating is not available for native animals," says Nickas. "Disease transmission from livestock to wildlife, predator control and all of that happens inside these designated wildernesses."

Nevada has about 50 million acres of BLM-administered lands.

In addition to Elko, scoping meetings were held in remote cities in New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana. No meetings were scheduled in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and other Western states that have significant portions of BLM lands where livestock grazing is permitted.

Comments can be made at BLM.gov


Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV