Bill Introduced to Support Grazing on Federal Lands

by Grace McDonald

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), member of ENR and chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, introduced the Operational Flexibility Grazing Management Program Act to support ranchers who rely upon federal lands to graze their livestock.

This legislation aims to improve the management of grazing activities on federal lands by granting livestock operators increased flexibility to promptly adapt and respond to changing on-site circumstances, such as drought or wildfires. This will enhance their capacity to oversee ranching operations that are economically viable and promote the health of rangelands and wildlife habitats.

“Grazing is an integral part of keeping Wyoming’s rangelands healthy. Ranchers need more flexibility to adapt and respond to on-the-ground threats like drought and wildfires. This will both support our ranching communities and encourage better management of our federal lands. Our bill gives ranchers the tools they need to best manage the grazing activities of their livestock. I’m pleased to be working with Senator Wyden to advance this critical reform,” said Senator Barrasso.

“After embracing the Bureau of Land Management pilot program, ranchers in eastern Oregon worked closely with me to include updated operational flexibility in my community-crafted Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act to bring certainty, conservation and economic opportunity to the forefront of Malheur County’s future,” Senator Wyden said. “Today I’m pleased to work with Senator Barrasso to build on the work of Oregon ranchers to give the rest of the West the tools to adapt in real time to the changing conditions and seasonal variations in weather brought on by the climate crisis as they manage grazing on rangelands. These authorities will recognize the ranchers who choose to use them as active participants in improving the ecological health of our public lands.”

The Operational Flexibility Grazing Management Program Act will: 

  • Expand a national grazing program at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that will allow for approved grazing permittees to have more flexibility in how they manage the federal rangelands they utilize. 
  • Requires the BLM to develop and authorize flexible grazing use alternatives at the request of grazing permittee or lessee, in consultation with the affected federal and state agencies, applicable Native American Tribes, and other affected parties within the allotment.
  • Provides for adjustable pasture rotation dates up to 14 days before and after the specified timeframe to respond to changes in weather, forage production, fire, drought, market conditions, or other temporary conditions.
  • Requires BLM to establish cooperative monitoring plans and rangeland health objectives to monitor and evaluate the impact of the program in coordination with the permittees.

Click here to read the bill text.

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Energy & Natural Resource Senate Committee

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