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Government Announces New ‘Flexible’ Grazing Permits for Oregon Ranchers

Trump administration officials are calling it ‘outcome-based grazing,’ and are offering the option to 11 ranches and livestock companies as a demonstration. Critics are saying it weakens accountability standards for ranchers grazing on public lands.

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 5:17 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 5:19 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Oregon ranches will be among 11 in the country to be offered a new kind of process for livestock grazing on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on Friday.

Known as outcome-based grazing authorizations (OBGAs), the new process offers an “unprecedented level of flexibility in the management of livestock,” according to the BLM.

Roaring Springs Ranch near Burns, Oregon and Fitzgerald Ranch near Lakeview, Oregon will be two of the 11 ‘demonstration projects.’ The other test cases are spread throughout the western United States—including Wyoming, Nevada, Montana, Idaho and Colorado.

According to a BLM statement, the OBGA initiative is designed to prove that permitted livestock grazing on public lands can successfully operate with fewer restrictions, while still reaching habitat and vegetation goals.

"The demonstration projects will play an important part in establishing outcome-based grazing authorizations as a standard practice," said Brian Steed, Deputy Director of Programs and Policy. "We will consider the success of the demonstration projects as we develop guidance for future authorizations."

The OBGA initiative emphasizes conservation performance, ecological outcomes, and cooperative management of public lands, according to the BLM. This is intended to produce ranching that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

“Farmers and ranchers know the wildlife and the land they work better than anyone; it only makes sense that we would enlist them in conservation efforts,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

The BLM wording implies that ranchers will be trusted to manage their impact on public lands with less oversight and regulation—and will only be penalized should their efforts prove lackluster. The BLM does not describe how the oversight process will operate under the new OBGA initiative, however.

Harvard’s Environmental Law program was somewhat critical of the OBGA initiative, citing a 2016 report by the Department of the Interior that estimated “30% of assessed federal rangelands are not meeting the promulgated land health standards,” largely from livestock grazing.

Current permit structures are designed to protect native species and ensure land health, according to a Harvard statement. The new OBGA initiative would "weaken the stringency of grazing restrictions and accountability standards for permit and lease holders."

Livestock grazing occurs on 155 million acres of public lands, according to the BLM. The BLM grants almost 18,000 permits and leases to ranchers—usually covering a 10-year period.

Grazing on public lands was a central theme of recent friction between activists like Cliven Bundy and government agencies, as Bundy reportedly refused to pay for his permit to graze on public land.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060666

Reported Deaths: 74152
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152491227121
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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