|WASHINGTON (July 6, 2023) – Last night, the Public Lands Council (PLC) submitted grazing coalition comments raising concerns with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed rule titled “Conservation and Landscape Health.” Together with PLC affiliate members the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), as well as partners from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the comments garnered signatures from 55 state organizations and several additional national partners.
“Public lands ranchers lead conservation across the West. Our cattle and sheep are the tools we use to feed this country and protect these landscapes. We are committed to protecting these lands and the legacies we have built on them, especially when it means working to oppose government efforts that will cause more harm than good,” said PLC President Mark Roeber, a Colorado rancher. “If the BLM is serious about lasting conservation, they should have talked to us first, not forge ahead blindly with a universally controversial rule that will cause billions of dollars in harm to western states and our national economy.”
Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, the BLM has a mandate to ensure the multiple use of our nation’s public lands including recreation, energy, mining, timber, and grazing. This proposed rule upends multiple use by placing the “conservation” use above other uses of public lands, giving power to third parties to remove grazing and other productive uses of the land in the name of an undefined “conservation” effort. Activities like grazing provide numerous benefits to the ecosystem and removing grazing would harm long-term landscape health across hundreds of millions of acres.
“The BLM’s proposed rule is especially concerning to cattle producers who hold federal grazing permits and utilize public lands across the West, but this rule is a threat to the national industry,” said NCBA President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer. “Public lands grazing provides valuable conservation and food security benefits, and this proposal opens the door to removing grazing entirely. We strongly urge the BLM to heed our calls to follow the law, withdraw their proposed rule, and work with cattle producers who have conserved these lands for generations.”
“This proposed rule would serve to undo the tremendous work that has been done for generations by embracing the multiple use mandate and a working partnership between stakeholders and the BLM,” said ASI President Brad Boner of Wyoming. “The proposed rule – written behind closed doors – would fundamentally change the BLM’s multiple use mandate without congressional, state, county or stakeholder input.”
In addition to formal comments submitted by PLC and the grazing coalition, over 700 individual livestock producers signed a grassroots letter to the BLM opposing this proposed rule.
“Livestock producers have overwhelmingly told the BLM that they are committed to conservation and that this rule is a step in the wrong direction in achieving those goals. We are extremely grateful for the hundreds of cattle producers who spoke with a unified voice,” said PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “We hope the BLM takes notice of these calls to rethink their process and their methods.”