|Groups endorse plan to end public lands grazing
By JEFFRY MULLINS, Associate Editor
ELKO, NV - March 4, 2002-- More than 75 organizations, including some
that receive federal funding, have endorsed a plan to end livestock
grazing on federal lands in the West.
The plan was unveiled last fall by National Public Lands Grazing
Campaign and would involve purchasing grazing permits from ranchers,
then permanently retiring the permits.
Special legislation would be needed in order for the group to accomplish
its goal. Meanwhile, letters have been mailed to the approximately
25,000 grazing permittees to introduce them to the buyout proposal and
ask for their support.
"Some ranchers have already voluntarily relinquished their grazing
permits to the government in exchange for compensation from third
parties, and we believe many more would sell their permit interest to
the government and retire the associated allotments from grazing,"
NPLGC reports on its Web site, www.publiclandsranching.org.
Mark Salvo, attorney for the group, also works for American Lands
Washington, D.C.-based group that has threatened to petition for listing
of the sage grouse as a federally protected species.
At a RangeNet conference last fall, Salvo told the audience grazing
place on 270 million acres of federal land, which is "a significant
land area." But he said the number of ranchers using the land is
"insignificant" and contributes less than a tenth of one
percent to employment in the West. American Lands is one of the
endorsers, along with Western Watersheds Project (Idaho), Alliance for
the Wild Rockies (Montana), Forest Service Employees for Environmental
Ethics (Oregon) (Is this legal?), Humane Society of the United States
(Washington, D.C.), Wild Utah Project (Utah), The Wildlands Project
(Vermont) and 70 other groups.
An article by Salvo and Andy Kerr of The Larch Company says,
"Domestic livestock grazing (mostly beef cattle) have done more
damage to North America than the bulldozer and chainsaw combined. Not
only have livestock been degrading the landscape longer than developers,
miners, and loggers, they have grazed nearly everywhere. Yet, the
conservation movement has paid scant attention to this issue, even on
federal public lands where livestock mow through 257 million acres
Buying out the grazing permits would be cheaper for taxpayers than
allowing grazing to continue, they say.
Others on the group's steering committee are Katie Fite of the Committee
for Idaho's High Desert, John Horning of Forest Guardians, Bill Marlett
of Oregon Natural Desert Association, Jon Marvel of Western Watersheds
Project, Randi Spivak of American Lands Alliance and Martin Taylor of
the Center for Biological Diversity.
Some of the groups endorsing the plan have received federal funding.
These include California Trout, based in San Francisco; Land and Water
Fund of the Rockies; and World Wildlife Fund.
NPLGC is preparing to publish a book titled "Welfare Ranching: The
Destruction of the American West," due out this summer.