Help Stop the Entrenchment of Public Lands Livestock Grazing!

Travis-HeadshotTwo-hundred and fifty million acres of public lands need your help. 

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resourcesis poised to move the so-calledGrazing Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 258) out to the floor, legitimizing this bad idea that is nothing more than an attempt to exclude conservation interests from public lands grazing management.

If enacted, this law would:

  1. Limit public review of grazing decisions by excluding nearly all permit renewals from National Environmental Policy Act review.
  2. Double the term-length on grazing permits to twenty years!
  3. Grant agencies unchecked authority on whether and when to review grazing permits.

The Grazing “Improvement” Act would create a perfect storm that would exclude the public from grazing decision-making while perpetuating grazing impacts on thousands of grazing allotments across the West, resulting in a major increase in the deterioration of our federal public lands.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee members need to hear from you that this is an unacceptable piece of legislation that must not move forward.

Key contacts:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) 
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Let them know that signing off on the bill has implications for imperiled species across the West and would undermine basic environmental protections affecting the most widespread land use.

Call or email today!

Travis Bruner Sig
Travis Bruner
Public Lands Director
Western Watersheds Project


  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Of course, our “fiscally conservative” Republicans favor the entrenchment of welfare ranching, hypocrites that they are, but the Democrats need to stand up on the issue.

  2. Greta Anderson Avatar

    Ralph, Right you are. And the Dems need to not play political football when so many species are at stake. It should be more than obvious to everybody that if this passes, there will be “inadequate regulatory mechanisms” to prevent the listing of sage-grouse across the West. Well, frankly, even if it passes, the lousy kowtowing management will likely doom the bird. But listing for lack of regulatory mechanisms will be such an easy case to make when every grazing permit will be exempted from timely NEPA review.

  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    Not only will there inadequate regulatory mechanisms for sage grouse, it may take twenty years to even address an issue that arises on any given allotment. And, allotments that are being renewed now, before the big sage grouse Land Use Plan amendments are implemented won’t see any change in management until they are next reviewed, if ever.

  4. Elk375 Avatar

    In the Nov/Dec issue of Montana Outdoors there is an excellent article about Sage Hens. The major area of study is where I hunted sage grouse several times a year in the late 60’s.

    From what I have read on this forum some people are misinformed about the sage grouse, there habitat and needs. But then again I know nothing about sage grouse in Oregon, Southern Idaho or Nevada.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Who exactly are you saying is misinformed? And how are they misinformed? Quit taking potshots without being specific.

    2. Ken Cole Avatar

      With regard to the assertions made in the article about “well managed grazing”, I have seen very little of that in Idaho and Nevada. Pretty much all of the native bunch grasses and forbs are grazed down to nothing each and every year and there is very little residual nesting cover left each spring.

      Because there is so much resistance to examining how grazing actually impacts sage grouse habitat, there are few studies showing the impacts. This is by design. What is clear though, especially when you visit the landscape, is that the understory of sage steppe habitat is severely depleted by long term overgrazing and it is never allowed to recover. This allows predators, especially ravens, to find nests. Of course, instead of working to recover habitat, the feeble minded would rather kill the predators which doesn’t address the real problems that livestock is causing.

  5. john Avatar

    can’t happen without democrat participation can it,, so if it goes, you can’t drop the nut on the republicans,,,they DO control the committee, is that correct.

  6. Gus Connelly Avatar
    Gus Connelly

    Would it be more effective to contact the elected officials in my home state of Colorado? I clicked the link from the senator from Oregon and it says if you are not from Oregon, contact your own senator. Also what about an online petition, I would be happy to sign on to that!

  7. Nancie Mccormish Avatar
    Nancie Mccormish

    I’m encouraging everyone to go to this site and log a vote on both the House and Senate versions of this legislation. Let’s try to get folks from all 50 states to weigh in. This site makes it easy to get your input to your officials.

    I’ve also bombarded my elected officials, as we all should, so this stealth land grab loudly grinds to a halt.
    See especially some cogent comments on S258 about how our public lands management plans center on the 10 year plan, not 20, which means if enacted this legislation would mean some areas would not be reviewed or plans revised for 20-40 years! Unbelievable.


    HR 657

  8. Lisa L. Avatar
    Lisa L.

    I’ve read a good deal about Sage Grouse as their territories relate to Wild Horse and Burro Management areas (my ‘chosen field’).
    Most Environmental Assessments authored to remove wild equines will invariably play the Sage Grouse card. And not necessarily appropriately; many areas shared between these species overlap less than 12% over an area covering, say, 135,000 acres.
    Sage Grouse seem to hit the air waves more as a ‘could be’ species (IUCN has them rated at ‘Near Threatened’)but they’ve become a perfect excuse for predator control, wild equine removals, juniper control (although their preferred nesting grounds are juniper/sagebrush/grassland communities) – everything BUT grazing controls. Or restraint on human encroachment in the form of housing developments or mining.
    Playing the sage grouse card keeps federal agencies and land use decisions right on the outside edge of true monitoring and scientific research; as long as the term ‘sage grouse’ appears in an Environmental Assessment or Land Use Plan, it gives the impression of due diligence, without any actual diligence.
    When sage grouse populations are monitored by federal agencies that base estimates on the wings of dead birds killed by hunters, this doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in methodology.
    But if grazing leases – so poorly administered already – are given carte blanche in the form of 20-year leases, with the same adherence to detail already demonstrated by the BLM, it could be a decade before anyone realizes the sage grouse are gone.
    I’ve seen the physical differences between welfare rancher allotments and the private property of a working cattle ranch. When the property is yours, you tend to treat it better; you care not only for your livestock, but for everything that calls your property home. Conversely, when your livelihood is handed to you for $1.35 per cow/calf pair, you give not one damn about the condition of the land or anything else that lives on it – not even your own livestock (although, I’ve seen sheep watched on Public land, but never cattle.)
    There is nothing about this ‘Act’ that could be even remotely construed as ‘improvement’. It, like every land or range use plan before it, will continue to kill off what’s left of Public land, and with 20 years to do so, likely quicker than any plan before it.
    Shouldn’t these ‘stakeholders’ be encouraged (or made) to repair and improve what they’re using RIGHT NOW before this Act is even entertained?

  9. Martin Avatar

    Im a outdoorsman in Southeat Idaho and spend alot of time on Ranchers land or i mean public land Ha Ha!The deserts here are virtually overgrazed to nothing even up to the winter range signs of the forest.Geez when you see a 1000 head of cattle eating what the feds say is winter range for the wildlife you tend to get a little confused!# 1 enemy of our public lands,CATTLE!


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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