BLM rebuffs grazing rule complainers
Last month’s release of the environmental impact statement (EIS) concerning new federal grazing rules was met with some harsh criticism from radical environmentalists and animal rights activists. However, officials with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told WLJ that allegations of wrongdoing by them were “false and groundless.”
Several activist groups claimed that BLM blatantly and illegally removed findings from the EIS that livestock grazing was indeed detrimental to federally-managed lands, specifically from a wildlife and riparian area standpoint. The groups said they were told by two scientists involved in the regulatory review process that their findings were disregarded and kept from the final EIS publication.
However, Tom Gorey, spokesman for BLM, said that the EIS included all information that was agreed to by a majority of the researchers involved in the overall review process.
“There were approximately 20 people in the process, including the two scientists that are dissenting,” said Gorey. “They are not happy that their findings were not included in the final EIS, however, the overwhelming majority of reviewers agreed those findings were not pertinent enough to lead to further grazing restrictions.”
Of particular concern to the two reviewers critical of the final EIS was that economic benefit to local economies trumped potential environmental damage that could be caused by livestock grazing.
However, Gorey said that the findings of the two reviewers failed to incorporate any other parameters into federal grazing management besides potential wildlife habitat or waterway damage.
The EIS was published in the Federal Register June 17, and Gorey said that final federal grazing rules will be released late this month and will be implemented 30 days after they are released to the public.
Among the changes will be more open communication between graziers and federal land managers and that actual damages will need to be cited before any litigation against federal lands grazing can even proceed to court. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor
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