Overhaul of grazing amendments on public lands comments from ranchers are needed by the BLM!

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– The County Seat is
brought to you this week by Jones and
DeMille Engineering, helping to shape
your quality of life. Find out more
@jonesanddemille.com. It’s been a quarter
century since the BLM revamped their grazing
program across the country. Today on the County Seat, we are going to take a look
at what the changes mean, what the revamp could bring and what kind of problems
the old program has led to. As we analyze the
new grazing program and tell you how
you can participate. County Seat is next. (upbeat music) – Hello everybody welcome
to the County Seat. I’m your host Chad Booth. We are bringing our
program to you today from the Utah State Capitol but it’s not State
legislative news we are talking about today. This is big Federal news. Recently the Bureau
of Land Management has decided to do a
system wide overhaul of their grazing program and this is something that hasn’t been done in for ever. Joining us for our
conversation today. Troy Forrest, the
Department of Egg and Food. He is the head of
the GIP program, Grazing Improvement Program. The guys that’s on the
ground, Tammy Pearson, a rancher, and just happens
to be a County commissioner from a very
agriculturally centered County Beaver County
and Kathleen Clarke, who serves as the head of
Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating office and used to run the BLM. How big a news really is this, that we are doing a
ground up policy change. – I think it’s a big opportunity since it hasn’t
happened since 1995 and when Babbitt was in charge of the Department of Interior, he undertook a chance to change
the rules governing grazing and did so in a way that made
it tougher for our ranchers to succeed out there. But that nonetheless
has been the rule that’s persisted since then. – So just staying on this topic, this was already in place
before you got there. How hard is it to try and
affect this kind of change? – I put together a team
and we went to work to go through all of the
hoops to get a rule changed, change the regulations,
governing grazing. We had a very good proposal. It was accepted
by the Department. The minute we released it, there was a group
that took us to court and said, “you can’t do this.” Interestingly, the judge
agreed that of the 11 items, nine of them were fine, but there were two of
them that he threw out. The folks who had to
file their lawsuit were not happy with that and they asked for
reconsideration and in reconsideration the
same judge left us with two and threw all of the rest out. And then I understand after that it was those two were
appealed to the Ninth Circuit and ultimately they’re
thrown out forevermore. – If we’ve had these
grazing restrictions and for a long period of time, I would like to kind of get a
bead on how hard it has been under the current operating, procedures to really maintain healthy public lands. Troy that, I’m looking kind of, I’m making eye contact
with you on this one. – Okay, well the problems
being is to affect change on your allotment money,
even if it’s positive change that you wanna do to make
a difference on the ground. It’s a five to
seven year process, by BLM zone. You know what they’ve looked at. It’s takes them
five to seven years to affect any kind of
change on an allotment. Even if that’s only changing
the the turn on date by two weeks. That shouldn’t have to be. They can under a
writer they have categorically exclude
and make a decision to renew your permit with all
the same terms and conditions. As long as they
don’t change any, they can do that with
a stroke of a pen and you get 10 more years. But if you want any change
of any kind on your permit, according to BLM, it’s five
to seven years at a minimum. And with that level of
hoops to jump through, it’s often easier for
the rancher to say, “well, it’s close enough,
I’ll do what I’ve been doing “because it’s easy. “I don’t have to go through
a process it’s appealable “where I could lose part
of my grazing rights.” And so that grazers willing
to sign on the dotted line because at least he
knows the devil he has, doesn’t necessarily know
the devil he doesn’t have. – So Tammy as a
practicing rancher, have you noticed it’s that
either the land is deteriorate or deteriorated or it’s
been harder to do your job as a rancher in the
last 20 years, 30 years? – Well, I think what
the worst problem was with Babbitt coming in is he eliminated the flexibility that the local range contact to work with you
on your own permit. And so kind of like
what Troy is saying, you know, if you wanna do range
improvements and whatever, it’s been literally
an act of Congress to get those kinds
of things done. It ties up NEPA ties up the EA’s or the categorical exclusions,
those kinds of things. And that’s all time consuming. But even some of our
things that we could do and some of the comments that
we want to make on this new, grazing regulation
is, is things like, targeted grazing and
range land health that they can use the
flexibility on a permit. Like when you have a big
range of cheatgrass come in and bring your whole heard
in there and clean it up. That’s gonna help
with the fire hazards and different things, trying
to get that fuel load down. – So we’re gonna
take a quick break. We’re gonna come
back and talk about the opportunity this presents and what sorts of, things
probably ought to be discussed if we’re doing an overhaul, we’ll be right back
with this conversation on the County Seat. (soft music) – The Utah School and Institutional Trust
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[email protected] – My daughter and I had just
finished a run at this place called Eagle Point. It’s this really cool but
kind of challenging ski resort that has a real
family feel to it. She was so excited, because she beat
me down the run. Deja vu, I saw myself as
a kid out skiing my mom, was a big moment for me, when all of a sudden it hit me, I was making the same
memories for her. – Beaver County Utah, make
it more than a vacation. – Exploring is an innate
part of being human. What if there was
a place on earth that explores your
sense of touch, sound, breath, sight, all year long, so take your
time and make it monumental. San Juan County, Utah’s Canyon Country is the place to explore
your sense of adventure. – All the traveling that
I’ve done over the world, I’d still rate this locale
as being one of the best. – This is some of the most
scenic country out there and part of the appeal for
Canab is it’s small town. It’s beautiful. People are very friendly. – You just couldn’t find
a nice place to come. – Welcome back to
the County Seat. We’re having a
conversation today about a new plan to overhaul
grazing across the entire BLM system, not just at a State, not just to the local level. What are the things that we
really need to be looking at that we haven’t
looked at before? What are the opportunities like? – I think the prior set of
rules and regs that came out of the Clinton administration, really we’re trying where
we’re emphasizing conservation, let’s take care of the land, let’s not worry
about the rancher. And they invited
external public’s that were opposed to ranching to have a larger voice and sometimes a
seat at the table or a seat on the bus if
they wanted to go out and take a tour. But it complicated that, it got rid of the flexibility
is as already been mentioned. It denied, you know,
ranchers the ability to have any capital interest in the
range land improvements they paid for. So we’d like to see
some of that overturn. And I think we also know
how scientific evidence that supports the fact
that smart grazing can be good for the ranch. You know, and getting
cows off sometimes is the very worst
thing you could do. – So I agree. Yeah, and you know, we’ve seen,
you know, because they have, because the regulations
are so honours now and allotment management
plans had been the same in many cases now for 30 years. We’ve had type changes. We’ve had sagebrush valleys
that have now burned in our cheatgrass, but the plan that’s
written for grazing pretends the
cheatgrass isn’t there and it’s still blue bunch
wheat grass and Sage brush and it’s pristine. We’ve gotta have the
ability to change to meet the needs of the
land that has changed over that period of time. And we have a once in a
generation chance to do that, to make meaningful changes where
we can respond in real time to the conditions on the range. If a fire happens and we need
to remove grazing for a minute and then bring it back
at a higher level, we should have that flexibility. You know, in Utah,
we’ve got an example where because of
one field office, they took the opportunity to
make temporary non-renewable AUM permanent. Because we had the
Milford flat fire, the biggest fire
in Utah history. It burned a whole
bunch of sagebrush and pinyon Juniper trees and the State threw
an overwhelming effort in conjunction
with the BLM, went back in and receded that
and there’s more forage there, but it took four or five years to allocate that
forage to the cows so that they could use it, so that we don’t have a
perpetual cycle of burn. And that’s a win
win for everybody because we’re using
a renewable resource, that has been made better. But under the current
regulations, it’s honors. It’s difficult. It’s almost impossible
to make those changes in a timely manner. We need to be able to respond. – Tammy, you know, I had
an uncle that was a rancher and he would just see practical
things and he, part of what he had to deal with is
national park service in addition to the BLM. But, even back in the
sixties and seventies, it was very difficult
to get stuff done that you saw a
practical solution. Have you seen situations where you’ve actually gone
the wrong direction because of the policies
that were put in place and the land has become
significantly worse? Just cause you can’t
do something simple like develop a spring? – Yeah, that’s
been, problematic. And I think that, probably the best
thing Utah has, and I tell everybody when we’re working with the
national association of counties in our Western
interState region, different things like that
and on public lands that, you know, Utah’s leading the
way with her own WRI projects or program and those
kinds of things. But there’s still the Federal
Stipulations and Regulations that tie you up in that. I mean, you can’t just
do whatever you want. It’s a process to go
through there and do that. So a lot of the things
that would be simplified, especially if we
make these comments and these regulations
are updated. It is just regular maintenance. I mean on, water sources on
the point source, like your ring tanks or
your watering troughs, different things like that, that need to be
upgraded and maintained. Your ponds that
need to be in there. It should just be
within the contract within the scope of the contract and your permit go in
there and do those things. Most everybody’s permit
actually says that, but it’s not really allowed. I mean you still have to
go through all these hoops to get just regular
maintenance done and it doesn’t make any sense. – Well and the other
thing you know Chad NAEP has been in place since 1976. We’ve literally done thousands
of Environmental Assessments on range land improvements, on pipelines, on seedings, on brush treatments and
those types of things. 99.9% of the time when
that effort is under taken at the end of it, you get to a finding of
no significant impact. If we know that we’re not significantly impacting
the environment. We’ve done thousands of
these studies that show that, why do we continue
to do the studies that are gonna show
us the same thing and get to the same result? Why do we not categorically
exclude that and make it where, we know that if we
put in a pipeline and trough it has very
minimal environmental effects that are negative. It has a lot of positive
effects from an economic and an ecological standpoint. Why do we not make
it where it’s easy? We’ve done thousands of them, the BLM has the records of it. Let’s go, let’s
take the records. You know the last
five or six years they’ve got e-planning. They can show every
one of those EA’s. We can harvest that data, look at it and find, you know, maybe there are
certain situations where we come up to
significant impacts and we need to do an
Environmental Impact Statement. But let’s identify
those few situations, whatever they are and
only do the work there. Why do work that we
don’t have to do? That seems disingenuous to me. – Has this science have things
that you thought you knew 10 years ago been proven wrong or at least the regulators
thought they knew? Have they been proven wrong? – I think especially with us,
like our pastoral rotations, different things like that. I think that the set time, it’s just like your on
and off days are set. In the spring and in the fall. And those kinds of things
depending on the season or the weather that
year, whatever, you know, those are the kind of
flexibility times that we need that the local range culture
be able to help you with. – That actually leads
to a bunch of questions. I’m gonna take another break
and come back and readdress you know, this blank
canvas that we have because it seems like there’s
just a lot of opportunities. So we’ll be right back
with the County Seat. (soft music) (upbeat music) (soft music) – What’s your view? Living in a smaller community
always has its advantage. It’s much easier to
know your neighbors, to have a great place
to raise your kids. Instead of living in the
place you need to for work. Why not work from the
place you’d like to live? Change your perspective
in Duchesne County. Close enough for business
far enough to get away. (soft music) – Welcome back to
the County Seat. We’re having a conversation
today about the, overhaul of grazing, not the
overhaul of the actual land, but the policies that
govern it on federal lands where people have
grazing allocations, at least as far as
the BLM is concerned. Well, what are you gonna change? – Flexibility, make it
where local managers can make local decisions. I mean, just because it
hasn’t rained in Salt Lake doesn’t mean it
didn’t rain in Beaver. And the people in Beaver
shouldn’t have to be affected by a decision in Salt Lake. It should be the local manager that looks at conditions
on the ground and says, “yeah, your feed’s
there, go ahead. “Go ahead and go out
10 days early because “spring broken April this year “instead of waiting until may.” So we should take advantage. – Right, and right now they
don’t even look to Salt Lake because the rules in place are responding to
very fixed things, very fixed directives about
how to manage the land. And they may make no sense for Utah across the board or certainly for a
given grazing area. So I think it is
time that we had, results based grazing. Let’s empower a rancher
to be a good steward and see if he can
improve that land. And I bet you nine out
of 10 cases they would. – Oh yeah, their
livelihood depends on it. – That’s exactly right. They would make good choices. – Like Troy said with
the local management and being able to be flexible
on whatever, you know, the needs are for that permit. One of the biggest concerns
I think that we have is on the grazing rigs is who
are the interested parties and who are the, you know, who are the people that are allowed to make
the comments, right. And so we had this
conversation a few years ago and I kind of, you know,
lost my mind a little bit in the conversation. “‘Cause the comment
was made is that, there are shareholders or
stakeholders, you know, it was basically every
man, woman and child in the State, in the nation. It can make a comment
on my permit renewal or my chaining or
whatever’s going on. And I says, that’s not, I mean, that can’t absolutely be true. That can’t be one
of those issues or, you know, that
can’t be possible. And it absolutely
is since Babbitt, I mean, that was one of
the changes that he made. And so, I think that
the affected parties or the affected interests
should be someone that is actually is on the
ground or that has. – You had Western
interests at heart when you were the
director of the BLM. – I did. – You were educated
in this area, you understand land
management and grazing. What would make your
job as a director easier to make sure that we
are treating the land, you know, correctly
and maximizing? Because I looked at the
pictures on the wall behind you. Anytime you improve
grazing for cattle, you’re improving conditions
for wildlife as well. – That makes Salt itself. – I think ideally you get Washington to
get their hands out of it and you delegate authorities
for range management and oversight to the
local field offices. They know what’s going on. They ought to be developing
personal relationships with the ranchers. They ought to go ride with them. I’ve man, I suggested that when
I was at BLM and they said, well, you haven’t
seen horses in years. Well, it’s about
time you saddle up and get to know the people you’re affecting their
livelihoods, their lives. Your job is not just
about getting rid of them to presumably protect the land. They have an obligation
to work with the rancher as coast stewards, so I push authority out. – I would to and I think
the thing that we forget sometimes is the Taylor
Grazing Act was set up to give preference to those
that were already here, to reward those settlers
that had taken the time, made the effort to
establish a ranch. Those rights were
documented and made whole through the Taylor Grazing Act. That was the whole intent
is to a portion of the range to make it fair. We forgot that in
land management now is that those were
the first people here. Those preferences, those permits date back to pre BLM times before the BLM was here and
there is an investment there, a generational investment
by those ranchers and those ranch families that we need to
take into account. You know, the American public, they know if you want
to get into the movie, you’ve got to be one of the
first 500 people in line in order to get into that
auditorium to see the movie. We understand that concept. Ranchers were here first. They’re the ones that blaze
the trails into the West. They got here, they
establish the communities based on their ranches, that we all live from. So that preference
needs to be recognized as we promulgate regulations
that affect their lives. Because it’s the economic basis that the federal government
made a promise long ago that these lands were
available to these people for these purposes. They need to withhold
their end of the bargain and those guys need to have
a different seat at the table than a housewife in Detroit. And that’s just the fact. – Troy, you’re
much more talkative than last time you
were on this show. I’m just saying, which is good. – We got him all fired up. – We’re gonna take a break
here on the County Seat. When we come back, we’ll
have some final thoughts. We’ll see in just a second. (soft music) – I am the light in the darkness when your loved ones are lost. I am the one who keeps
the halls of justice safe for those who still on trial. I am the keeper of the jail and safety net for those
who have broken the law. I am more than the
enforcer of the laws. I am the protector
of public safety. I am here to serve,
because you elected me. Learn more about the office
and support your local sheriff by joining the Utah
Sheriff’s Association. – What’s your view? Living in a smaller community
always has its advantage. It’s much easier to
know your neighbors, to have a great place
to raise your kids. Instead of living in the
place you need to for work. Why not work from the
place you’d like to live? (soft music) Change your perspective
in Duchesne County. Close enough for business,
far enough to get away. (upbeat music) (soft music) – In winter’s favorite town, the white carpet
stretches from miles, skiing is amazing. They’re beautiful mountains
adventures at every turn. New friends are easy to make. And the memories
never melt away. Discover why Park City Utah,
is winter’s favorite town. @visitparkcity.com. – Welcome back to
the County Seat. We are talking about
the overhaul on grazing, across the BLM spectrum. Okay, it’s do or die time. This opportunity is not
gonna happen possibly again for another 25 years. So how do ranchers and users of the land
need to participate? – So there, there’s
gonna be a website and you can make your comments or you can send your own
handwritten letters or emails or whatever else on. And I think that
it’s really important that says local agencies and we kinda give
individual ranchers an idea. – So the, the process
really is because public meetings are happening, but March six, 2020
is the deadline, which means that, like a couple of
weeks before that or in the next couple of weeks, you need to get your comments in and you should make
them to the County so the County can
get them to the State so the State can organize them and put them out under
the governor signature, which has more weight. Is that, is that correct? – That’s true. But the individual
ranchers themselves also need to make those
comments on their own, talk about their
personal problems, their issues that they’ve
had over the years. You know, the time that they asked to get
their permit renewed and it took 10 years because of the roadblocks
that BLM put in place. Those personal stories
need to go directly. They need to go to that
website where the link is and write those comments and talk about how it’s
affected them economically, how it’s heard their health, how it’s made them
difficult to operate. They need to make sure
they take that time. – So Kathleen, this
review is gonna be done at a different level obviously. A lot of guys will have
experience at you know, a field office doing
a grazing review. These comments are
gonna go to an entirely different level of review. Are they not? – They will, they will
go to a senior officials within the BLM, which
may actually reside
in grand junction. We may not have to deal
with the Washington factor, but yes, they’re gonna
be people in the agency that are professionals
in that area, but they have risen
up through the ranks. – Do people need to
be really eloquent or can they just get
the point across? – No, they can use John
language all they want. – Okay, and then you
guys will take it and rework it from there? – And they can also write
their comments on paper and put a stamp on an
envelope and send them. – I think it means as much
coming from an individual rancher, Grazer, whether you’re a wool
grower or a Cattleman’s, whatever it means just as
much coming from an individual is probably more. – All right, and now
is the time to do it. This is something
that they need to do in the next two weeks, right? – Absolutely. – And this is a once in
a generation opportunity. – Probably within a week
of when your show airs. – There you go.
– Not two weeks. – Okay, well, local government
is where your life happens. Be engaged, be involved,
be part of the solution. Participate in this please
and share this message, as quickly as you can
with your friends. It’s on YouTube,
it’s on Facebook. And while we would
love your comments, right now on this
particular topic, your comments need to
be going to the BLM and we’ll see you next week on the County Seat. (upbeat music)


One Response

  1. Western Horse Watchers

    February 22, 2020 5:08 pm

    Government does not grant rights.  Government protects rights, which predate and outrun all administrations.Livestock grazing on public lands is a privilege, not a right.  What government gives, government can take away.  These lands are to be managed for the enjoyment of all, not for the benefit of a select few.Wondering if the revamp will address these concerns: (1) Water sources commandeered for personal gain, (2) Fences that impede the movement of other animals–limiting access to critical resources, (3) Grazing fees stuck in a time capsule since the 1960s, (4) Stocking rates that would destroy the land in a single season if it wasn't for pasture rotation, (5) Rape and pillage sold as environmental stewardship, (6) Transmission of diseases to wildlife by domestic livestock (e.g., bighorn sheep), (7) Wild horses forced off their home range so their food can be sold to public-lands ranchers, (8) Consumers unable to tell if they're buying range-fed beef, (9) Conflicts of interest by those who manage and monitor the programs, clearly visible in this video.  How can you defend any of this?


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