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BLM Hopes To Give Livestock Grazers More Voice With Test Program


Ranchers have long complained about the amount of red tape required to get grazing permits, and about not being included on land management decisions.

The Bureau of Land Management hopes to resolve some of that tension with a new pilot program that will speed up the permitting process and allow ranchers to determine the best way to make rangelands healthier.

Wyoming BLM spokesperson Kristen Lenhardt said it’s in the best interest of ranchers to improve rangeland quality and their voice needs to be heard.

“If we need to take some cows off or increase cows depending on what kind of a season we’re having and what the range is looking like, we can do that without lengthening a process and it really offers that flexibility,” said Lenhardt.

And she said the program wouldn’t undermine ecosystem and species protections and objectives that are already in place.

“The ranching community is very interested in having healthy rangelands. It is something that is a mutual goal of ours,” she said. “And so, we are still going to be setting those baseline objectives on what is best for the rangeland. And that is where the collaboration is going to come in with the local landowners.”

In a statement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he supports the program because "farmers and ranchers know the land they work better than anyone." 

The BLM is taking project proposals through its state offices through October 27.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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