Organizations Want Water Conservation Fund Expansion Stopped

Legislation could hurt public grazing.

Published on: Dec 3, 2010

The Public Lands Council; American Sheep Industry Association; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; and 15 other livestock groups have expressed their hope that legislation addressing public lands and legislation to increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund will not be introduced during the lame-duck session of Congress. The groups, in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Congressional leadership, say both measures would have the potential to threaten the livelihoods of livestock producers.

In the letter, the livestock groups express concern over reports of the possible introduction of a bill including as many as 60 different land bills, 20 of which could be new wilderness designations in 13 states, possibly exceeding two million acres. The letter also addresses Secretary Salazar's statement of support for such a bill, as well as his support for legislation for full funding of LWCF. Funds from the program would be used in part to acquire private land, including holdings, for the purpose of conservation. This would open the door to the possibility of greater restriction on activities such as livestock grazing.

PLC President John Falen, a federal lands rancher from Orovada, Nevada, says adding more land to the federal fold, and removing federal lands ranchers, the on-the-ground stewards of the range, will only add cost to taxpayers.