Twenty-two agricultural groups have written Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, objecting to his order, elevating the Office of the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management to the level of a directorate within BLM. The groups voiced their concern because they believe the change could threaten livestock grazing on BLM lands.
The National Landscape Conservation System, codified in the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, consists of approximately 10 million acres of national monuments, national conservation areas, and other specially designated BLM lands. By merit of statute, livestock grazing occurs on much of NLCS land. According to Public Lands Council president John Falen, the laws mandating grazing on NLCS lands are not given due consideration in the order.
The order says multiple uses such as grazing may be allowed, as long as they are not 'in conflict' with the 'values for which NLCS components were designated. Falen believes that leaves a lot of room for litigious environmental groups to claim that grazing is 'in conflict' with conservation even though well-managed grazing is documented to actually promote healthy ranges. Steve Foglesong, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says their members need assurance they will continue as part of a vibrant, working landscape.