The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association continues to raise concerns to the U.S. Forest Service about the detrimental impacts its proposed forest planning rule would have on federal lands ranching. Joe Guild, a rancher from Nevada and chairman of NCBA’s Federal Lands Policy Committee, says the Forest Service should walk away from the proposed forest planning rule and work with cattlemen on a plan to manage the land and its resources while sustaining a productive ranching industry.
NCBA Past President Bill Donald, a rancher in Montana, says cattlemen oppose the requirement to maintain viable populations of species of conservation concern. He said there is no scientific consensus on what level of any given population is viable or how it is to be managed.
"It deals with a lot of species that are not covered under the Endangered Species Act now," Donald said. "As a matter of fact all species, not even vertebrates, so fungus and mold and all of those type of things. They can designate those species in need of conservation and once that happens it can virtually shut a permitee off the land."
President of the Public Lands Council John Falen says if implemented this final rule will thwart multiple-uses and will have rippling effects on the health of rural economies.
Jim Peña, U.S. Forest Service associate deputy chief, says he expects the forest planning rule to be finalized in less than a month. The proposed rule will set management requirements for the 155 forests and 20 grasslands that constitute the National Forest System.
Guild says there is no scientific consensus on what level of any given population is viable or how it is to be managed.
"We urge the agencies to listen to our concerns, work with us on issues and help us sustain this industry for future generations," Guild said.