DEADLINE EXTENDED: NCBA, PLC Accepting Fall Law Clerk Applications

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2017) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., has extended the law clerk application deadline for the 2017 fall semester. The new deadline to submit an application for the position is June 1, 2017.

NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said that the law clerk position is a great opportunity for students with an interest in legislation and regulations concerning the beef industry.

“The clerkship gives law students the opportunity to work closely with NCBA’s environmental counsel and the executive director of the Public Lands Council on a wide range of regulatory issues that impact beef producers across the country,” Woodall said. “The law clerk position provides law students a one-of-a-kind view into the policy-making process while working as a valuable team member assisting the staff on several fronts.”

Producer-led and consumer-focused, NCBA is the nation’s oldest and largest national organization representing America’s cattle producers. PLC is the only organization in Washington, D.C., dedicated solely to representing cattle and sheep ranchers that utilize federal lands. The organizations work hand-in-hand on many issues, sharing office space in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The fall law clerk will provide support to both NCBA and PLC staff on matters ranging from environmental legislation and regulations to issues relating to federal lands management, grazing, and the Endangered Species Act. The law clerk will have the opportunity to attend key hearings, evaluate detailed policy documents, research current and proposed federal regulations, and help inform industry response to new federal regulations. To apply, students must be currently enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school.

The full-time law clerk position will begin August 28 and end December 22, 2017.  To apply for the law clerk position, visit www.beefusa.org.

Secretary Zinke Headlines Public Lands Council Legislative Fly-in

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the livestock grazing industry today during the annual Public Lands Council’s legislative fly-in, in Washington D.C. Secretary Zinke said the agency hasn’t been the best neighbor, but he will be holding the agency accountable and will restore trust in the department.

“We’re going to manage our properties just like you (ranchers) would manage your private lands,” said Zinke. “ Washington D.C. needs to understand that we work for the people, not the other way around.”

The Public Lands Council represents the 22,000 ranchers that utilize grazing permits on federal lands. PLC President Dave Eliason said Zinke was a welcomed addition to the conference and that the ranchers are looking forward to his tenure with the Interior Department.

“Secretary Zinke has consistently been an advocate for western communities that depend on the ranching industry,” said Eliason. “Ranchers have been marginalized and overlooked during planning processes for far too long. We believe Secretary Zinke will bring stakeholders back to table and stand up for those that have invested their time and livelihoods into the management and improvement of our federal lands. We look forward to working with him in his new role and restoring balance to the management of our Western Lands.”

Source: Public Lands Council

 

Sage Grouse Management Plans Based on Inaccurate Science

One year after the announcement by the Department of Interior that a listing under the Endangered Species Act was not warranted for the greater sage grouse and the implementation of restrictive resource management plans for the species, the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted a report to the agencies citing concerns with the methodology used.

Ethan Lane, PLC executive director and NCBA executive director of federal lands, notes that recent studies have shown little or no correlation between sage grouse nest success and the requirements set out by the agencies.

“The threats to sage grouse habitat remain wildfire and land development, both of which are mitigated by proper livestock grazing,” said Lane. “One of the most restrictive and burdensome requirements set out by the agencies through the sage grouse Resource Management Plans is the arbitrary stubble height requirement. To say that grass height alone can predict whether or not a sage grouse nest will be successful is not accurate and based on flawed methodology.”

The report points to recent studies showing that the assessments of stubble height required by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are incorrect. These studies show that the timing of grass height measurements in relation to nest predation are fundamentally flawed and not indicative of nesting success.

“Grass height measurements for successful nests are usually conducted in late spring when the eggs have successfully hatched and the grass is taller,” said Lane. “Contrarily, predation of nests often happens closer to the time the eggs are laid in early spring when the grasses are still growing. Grass height alone has little impact on the success or failure of sage grouse nesting, yet these requirements put intense pressure on grazing rotation and the long term health of the range.”

Repeated studies clearly show that grasses respond best to intensively-managed grazing that focuses heavily on timing and recovery. A managed grazing rotation means that a pasture will be grazed early in the season in some years and later in others to ensure optimal recovery and rangeland health.

“The Resource Management Plans make stubble height the driving factor in grazing decisions and impede improving rangeland conditions,” said Lane. “This is counter-productive to sage grouse habitat, as we know healthy rangelands are the largest factor in the success of the species. Moreover, by prioritizing individual data points like grass height over long-term range health, these plans also detract from the conservation of public lands and result in deteriorated rangelands.”

The Public Lands Council is calling on BLM, USFS and USFWS to provide clear instruction at the field level that livestock grazing is not a significant threat, livestock grazing should not be held to a standard that is not ecologically possible in some sites, and that reducing numbers and utilization of public lands will only increase the fuel load.

Source: Public Lands Council

2016 Public Lands Council Meeting Wraps Up; Utah Rancher Takes the Reins

WASHINGTON (September 12, 2016) – On Sat. Sept. 10, 2016, the annual Public Lands Council meeting wrapped up with a high desert range and operation tour in Southern Idaho. The meeting drew more than 150 public lands ranchers along with affiliate representatives to engage in the grassroots policy process, hear from agency officials, and discuss critical issues that are impacting the West. This year’s PLC meeting focused on top issues for public lands ranchers including preserving and enhancing sage grouse habitat through land stewardship, managing wild horse and burro populations at appropriate levels, and fighting regulation that threatens multiple use and vibrant western communities.

“We had a successful meeting this year, and we are pleased with the turnout of not only our members but agency officials that took to time to meet with us and hear our concerns,” said Ethan Lane, PLC Executive Director.

At the conclusion of the business meeting Fri. afternoon, Dave Eliason, a fifth-generation rancher from Utah was elected serve the two-year term as PLC president, succeeding Brenda Richards who will serve as immediate past president. Bob Skinner of Jordan Valley, Ore. was elected to serve as vice president and Nels Hansen of Rawlins, Wyo. is the new secretary/treasurer.

“I am incredibly pleased to see the direction of our industry and the strides the PLC has made on behalf of public lands ranchers during my service on the board,” said Richards. “Dave will be a great leader as we continue to work with the federal agencies and public lands ranchers to ensure grazing and cattle production remain a viable and sustainable industry across the west, not just for us, but for the next generation and beyond.”

Eliason is a fourth-generation cattle rancher from Utah and has long been a leader in his tight-knit community. He and his wife Gaylynn work with their five children to run cattle in both Idaho and Utah on private and public lands. In addition to his active role in PLC, he has been president of many state and local cattlemen and beef industry associations and a member of the Utah state advisory board for the Bureau of Land Management. He was also appointed as chair of the Utah State Farm Service Agency board by President George W. Bush and the Governor’s Agriculture Advisory Board by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.

“Ranching in the west and ensuring we pass our operation on to the next generation stronger than we found it is my top priority as I look to lead PLC over these next two years,” said Eliason. “I look forward to working with our board, our members and affiliates to achieve the goals our members set out at the annual meeting.”

As president of PLC, Eliason will lead the organization’s policy work. To learn more about the public lands council, visit publiclandscouncil.org.

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PLC has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Ranchers who utilize public lands own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation’s natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world. 

© Copyright 2016 Public Lands Council, all rights reserved

Public Lands Council Annual Meeting Update

We catch up with Jay Bodner, MSGA  Director of Natural Resources and Montana Public Lands Council Executive Secretary. He gives us an update on what the top issues are at the meeting and how they affect Montana and MSGA members.

Public Lands Council Hosts Annual Meeting in Boise, Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (Sept. 8, 2016) – Western ranchers are gathering this week in Boise, Idaho, for the 2016 Public Lands Council annual meeting. As the only organization in Washington D.C. solely dedicated to representing livestock ranchers who utilize public lands, PLC’s annual meeting will focus on legislative and regulatory updates. This year’s meeting will again feature top-notch speakers covering a wide range of topics.

“There’s never been a more important time for public lands ranchers to come together and shape the future policy for our livelihoods,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president. “Ranchers across the West have had some great wins over the past year, but there are still a number of critically important issues that we need to tackle. From the continued abuse of the Antiquities Act, locking off broad sweeps of public lands from multiple use, to environmental activists hampering endangered species conservation, it is vitally important that we set policy to preserve the future of our industry. This annual meeting is a great time to bring our strong membership base together to discuss these issues in the industry and develop our policy priorities.”

The sessions start today and cover a range of topics including the need for modernization of the Endangered Species Act, invasive species, wildfire management, water rights issues, sage grouse, and management of wild horses, and include speakers from the Western Resources Legal Center, the U.S. Forest Service and industry representatives. The meeting will wrap up on Saturday with a range tour of Charles Lyons’ Ranch.

“There are certainly no shortage of issues to discuss this year and it’s important for ranchers to engage in the conversation that shape national policy decisions,” added Richards. “With the backdrop of the Boise foothills, this is set to be a great meeting.”

For more information about the meeting and learn more about the organization, visit www.publiclandscouncil.org.

PLC has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Ranchers who utilize public lands own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation’s natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world.
 

Senate Holds Oversight Hearing on Sage Grouse Habitat Management  

Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

WASHINGTON (June 28, 2016) – Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining held an oversight hearing on the Federal sage grouse plans and their impact to successful ongoing state management of the species. Brenda Richards, Owyhee County Idaho rancher and president of the Public Lands Council, testified on behalf of the PLC and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Richards said that any Federal management plan must first recognize the essential contribution of grazing to conservation.

“Ranchers across the west have a vested interest not just in the health of their livestock, but in the rangelands that support their herds and the wildlife that thrive alongside them,” said Richards. “The businesses they operate form the economic nucleus of many rural communities, providing jobs and opportunities where they wouldn’t exist otherwise. Additionally, ranchers often serve as first responders in emergency situations across vast, remote stretches of unoccupied federal lands. Simply put, public lands ranchers are an essential element of strong communities, healthy economies, and productive rangelands across the west.”

Across the west, roughly 22,000 ranchers steward approximately 250 million acres of federal land and 140 million acres of adjacent private land. With as much as 80 percent of productive sage grouse habitat on private lands adjacent to federal permit ground, this makes private partnership essential in increasing sage grouse numbers. However, concern remains that local stakeholder input is being ignored by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Items such as Focal Areas, mandatory stubble height requirements and withdrawals of permits impose radically severe and unnecessary management restrictions on this vast area in opposition to proven strategies,” said Richards. “Rather than embracing grazing as a resource and tool for conservation benefit, these plan amendments impose arbitrary restrictions to satisfy requirements for newly minted objectives such as Focal Areas and Net Conservation Benefit. Wildfire, invasive species and infrastructure are the major threats to sage grouse habitat and they are all most effectively managed through grazing.”

According to the latest data from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ August 2015 report – Greater Sage Grouse Population Trends: An Analysis of Lek Count Databases 1965-2015, the number of male grouse counted on leks range-wide went from 43,397 in 2013 to 80,284 in 2015.  That’s a 63 percent increase in the past two years and contributes to a minimum breeding population of 424,645 birds, which does not include grouse populations on unknown leks.

“The results of these voluntary, local conservation efforts around the west are undeniable; habitat is being preserved and the sage grouse populations are responding,” said Richards. “Proper grazing specifically addresses the biggest threats to sage grouse habitat, while reduced grazing allows these threats to compound. To arbitrarily restrict grazing when it’s needed most is a recipe for failure. Local input and decades of successful, collaborative conservation efforts must be the starting point for future Federal involvement, not an afterthought as it is now being treated.”

Public lands ranchers encourage the BLM and Federal agencies to work with them to continue to conserve and protect sage grouse habitat.

A copy of Richards’ testimony submitted to the Subcommittee can be found HERE.

Public Lands Council Welcomes New Executive Director

PLC LogoWASHINGTON (November 2, 2015) – The Public Lands Council welcomes Ethan Lane to the association in his new role as executive director. Lane is originally from Arizona and joins PLC with over 18 years’ experience in natural resource and land use issues. In his new role, he will also serve as executive director of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Brenda Richards, PLC president and Idaho rancher, said, “We are pleased to welcome Ethan to the association. PLC is stronger than it ever has been before, and we are excited for the future of the industry. Under the Ethan’s leadership, we are confident that the organization will continue to grow, and we will continue to see wins in Washington D.C. that help public lands in the West.”

PLC is the only national organization dedicated solely to representing the ranchers who hold federal grazing permits and operate on federal lands. Public lands ranchers play an integral role in regional and national efforts to safeguard America’s open spaces, local industries, and rural heritage. Today, more than 22,000 public land ranchers maintain 250 million acres of U.S. public land.

Before coming to PLC and NCBA, Lane served as an advisor for a variety of private companies and industries operating on public lands throughout the West. He also spent ten years prior to moving to Washington D.C. helping to grow and manage a large real estate and ranch portfolio including more than 500,000 acres in Arizona alone – much of that made up of State, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management grazing permits.

“With his experience and knowledge of the issues, Ethan brings unique perspective on the challenges landowners and lessees face in operating successful businesses on public lands,” said Richards. “He has a great understanding of the complexity and multitude of issues public lands ranchers face in the West and will be able to hit the ground running.”

Lane starts with PLC and NCBA on November 2, 2015.

National Public Lands Council Meeting – Podcast with Vicki Olson

PodcastLast week, Montana Public Lands Council Directors attended the National Public Lands Council annual meeting, held in Cody, Wyoming. MPLC Chair, Vicki Olson of Malta, visited with us to review important topics that were discussed affecting Montana ranchers. These topics included Sage Grouse, PLC dues increase, emerging Animal Welfare law education, Bighorn and domestic sheep conflicts, and a change of leadership for national PLC.

Click here to listen to the podcast in a new window.

Western Ranchers Discuss Policy Priorities during Annual Meeting in Cody

PLC LogoWASHINGTON – The Public Lands Council hosted its annual meeting in Cody, Wyo., last week to discuss issues critical to the western ranching industry. Session topics included the need for modernization of the Endangered Species Act, sage grouse, invasive species, wildfire management, water rights issues, and management of wild horses among others. These hot button items drew a wide attendance and speakers from national affiliate organizations, the Western Governors’ Association, Western Resources Legal Center as well as Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The western ranching industry is unique in the fact that it faces an added layer of federal bureaucracy in dealing with lands managed by the government,” said Dustin Van Liew, PLC executive director. “Nearly 22,000 ranchers utilize grazing permits to graze on federal lands equating to nearly 40 percent of western cow herd and 50 percent of the nation’s sheep herd spending some time on federal lands. I’m pleased this year’s meeting brought great insight and discussion to the table.”

The potential listing of the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act was top of mind, as the habitat improves and even thrives, specifically in properly-managed ranching areas. James Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors’ Association stressed the importance of individual state involvement in land management decisions such as the potential listing of the Sage Grouse, which would not only harm the ranching industry, but potentially halt the successful conservation programs already underway by ranchers and the states.

Western Resources Legal Center Executive Director Caroline Lobdell gave an eye-opening presentation on emerging issues in animal law. One particular issue of concern being tried in the courts, she said, is attributing human rights and personhood onto animals and livestock.

The Public Lands Endowment Trust allocated nearly a half a million dollars to invest in the protection, enhancement, and preservation of the western ranching industry, including a continuation of the communications project that serves to educate policy influencers and the public on the beneficial uses of grazing on federal lands. Since inception four years ago, the Trust has distributed over $1.3 million to projects across the west.

“Grazing continues to represent a multiple use that is essential to the livestock industry, wildlife habitat, open space, and the rural economies of many western communities,” said Van Liew. “This meeting always fosters insightful conversation about the future of the industry, and we greatly appreciate those who sacrifice their time and energy to join the meeting to shape the direction of our industry.”