I just got a heads up that there is a provision in the Interior Appropriations bill that would require the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to give grazing permits to ranchers on any vacant allotment to replace lost grazing opportunities to due to fires or anything else “beyond the permittees control.”
The permits would be issued with the same rules in place as at the time the allotment was last grazed, which may have been decades ago. There would be no NEPA and there are no exceptions for Wilderness.
Folks might not know this, but there are a lot of vacant Wilderness allotments that were never “closed,” they are still on the books as “vacant.” The grazing guidelines clearly prohibit what the requirement in the pending Interior Appropriations bill does, but this new provision may well trump the grazing guidelines. Moreover, the guidelines don’t apply to any of the pre-1980 Wildernesses.
I’m in the process of trying to find more information and will provide it here when obtained.