Here’s what the U.S. Forest Service’s federal public lands colleagues are up to the the Bureau of Land Management. The press release is from Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians.
Trump Administration Strips Public Participation, Environmental Safeguards from Public Land Grazing Program
For Immediate Release: January 17, 2020
BOISE, Ida. –– In an advance notice of rulemaking published today, the Trump Administration announced plans to further deregulate the public lands livestock industry by proposing a suite of changes to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) grazing regulations. The agency is soliciting public comments on the consequences of the proposed changes.
Livestock grazing is the most pervasive use of western public lands. Public lands grazing is responsible for destruction of wildlife habitat, streams and riparian areas, the increase in invasive weeds across the West, and the subsequent increase in wildfire frequency and severity. Rather than craft new regulations that reduce grazing impacts and improve the health of public lands, today’s notice makes it clear that the BLM intends to further weaken its oversight of grazing impacts, reduce public input on grazing decisions, and promote the false narrative that more grazing is the solution to the problems it has created, such as increased number and severity of wildfires.
Today’s notice also demonstrates that the BLM is more interested in appeasing grazing permittees that break the rules rather than enforcing regulations that require the agency to report trespass grazing and other actions in violation of the permits. This is a clear nod to the Bundy crowd that they can get away with their illegal grazing and the BLM will just look the other way.
“We already see very, very few grazing permits undergoing environmental analysis as it is,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project. “The Trump Administration apparently intends to gut even that level of informed public participation in administering this heavily subsidized handout on federal lands.”
“BLM’s falsehood that increased grazing will reduce wildfire risk is dangerous,” said Judi Brawer, Wild Places Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “Increased grazing with less oversight will inevitably result in more weeds such as cheatgrass spread across public lands, destroying wildlife habitat, and resulting in more and higher severity fires.”
The Bush Administration also tried to gut the grazing regulations in 2006, an attempt that was thwarted by a lawsuit from Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West. These regulatory rollbacks were permanently enjoined by the courts in 2007, but it appears the Trump Administration is going to try again to thwart the public interest and eliminate environmental safeguards on 160 million acres of BLM grazing lands.