Kyle Partain - Lisa Surber Montana GoldToday, approximately 22,000 ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of private land and hold grazing permits on more than 250 million acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Nearly 40% of western cattle herd and about 50% of the nation’s sheep herd spend time on public lands.

In 2013, public lands ranching contributed $1.5 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 18,000 jobs.

The USFS asserts that 6,000 acres of open space are lost in the U.S. each day. A healthy ranching industry is a sure safeguard against the loss of open space that threatens the character of the American west.

Public land ranchers invest their time, their own money and their energy maintaining the federal lands they graze upon.

Ranchers and their families not only live and work on the range, they act as stewards of the land through efforts including:

  • Preserving clean water sources
  • Controlling invasive plants and non-native grasses
  • Protecting the habitat for endangered species
  • Maintaining firebreaks to actively prevent forest & range fires and act as first response when a fire occurs
  • The Sage Grouse Initiative – a partnership of ranchers, state and federal agencies, universities, nonprofit groups, and businesses that work together toward the goal of wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching

Public lands grazing is the economic backbone of countless rural communities within 11 western states. The work of America’s ranchers keep our nation fed, clothed and healthy.

Educate your Member of Congress about the necessity of public lands ranching, with our printable fact sheets. Click here to view the issue fact sheets.