Ruling Moves Grazing Rules Forward

Public Lands Council leader says BLM's new regulations strike a balance between resources conservation and sustainable public lands ranching.

Published on: Aug 15, 2006

A federal district court judge decided August 11 to move forward with substantial portions of new grazing regulations released last month by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

In Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a preliminary injunction blocking only the part of the grazing rules that deal with public participation in the rulemaking. But Judge Winmill upheld all other aspects of the regulations - a victory for public lands ranchers.  

"BLM's new regulations strike a balance between resource conservation and sustainable public lands ranching," says Jeff Eisenberg, executive director of the Public Lands Council. "The Western Watersheds Project fails to recognize the progress that can be made on the land by promulgating these new rules. It's unfortunate that they want to waste time with a frivolous lawsuit, but we are pleased that Judge Winmill decided to allow substantial portions of the regulations to be implemented."

The PLC, an organization of public lands ranchers throughout the West, has joined BLM in the lawsuit to help defend the final grazing regulations. The PLC represents the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Sheep Industry and the Association of National Grasslands. 

"The United States and the PLC overwhelmingly succeeded at this very early stage of the litigation," says Eisenberg. "None of the substantive provisions of the regulations were enjoined. These are all in effect."   

Eisenberg says the American people will benefit from PLC's efforts to defend the new rules because of the countless ways ranchers work to help protect the land and the environment where they graze livestock. Public lands ranchers serve as land managers and conservationists of 235 million acres of public land, and also control 107 million acres of private land. Protecting the ranching industry and the rural way of life also protects hundreds of millions of acres of private land from development and fragmentation. This helps to maintain open space, natural habitat, and quality of life in the American West. 

"Those who attack grazing fail to recognize the social and environmental benefits ranchers provide to the West," says Eisenberg. BLM spokesperson Tom Gorey agrees, and says the new rules will produce "long-term benefits for rangeland health."