Concerns over “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

NCBA, PLC Concerns About “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

PLC/NCBA News Release – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council yesterday expressed reservations about H.R. 3400, the so-called “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act,” as the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee prepares to mark up the bill.

“We strongly support the principle of multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBAs Federal Lands. “That said, the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one use over another, and that’s what this legislation does as it’s currently written.”

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 requires multiple use on public lands. This means that every American has a place on public lands – whether a hiker, camper, cattle rancher or energy producer, Lane said.

The Bureau of Land Management’s definition includes managing public land resources for “a variety of uses, such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural, and historical resources.”

Lane said that ranching is an essential element of multiple use because the practice easily coexists with other activities and does not preclude any of them from happening concurrently.

“Recreation should absolutely continue to be part of the multiple use of our public lands, but Washington shouldn’t go out of its way to promote it at the expense of other uses – like ranching.”

Wyoming Rancher testifies before U.S. Senate Committee, calls for less regulation

Today Niels Hansen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Public Lands Council and a member of NCBA, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to explain how onerous federal regulations undermine conservation goals.

“Cattle producers pride themselves on being good stewards of our country’s natural resources. We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, provide wildlife habitat and feed the world. Despite these critical contributions, our ability to effectively steward these resources is all too often hampered by excessive federal regulations like the ones we are discussing today,” Mr. Hansen said in written testimony.

Ranchers own and manage more land than any other segment of agriculture, implementing proven conservation practices that have sustained the environment for generations. Mr. Hansen highlighted how specific laws and regulations pose challenges to this rich heritage:

  • The 2015 Waters of the United States Rule: “As a livestock producer, the 2015 WOTUS Rule has the potential to negatively affect every aspect of my operation by placing the regulation of every tributary, stream, pond, and dry streambed in the hands of the federal government, rather the states and localities that understand Wyoming’s unique water issues.”
  • CERCLA/EPCRA reporting: “Congress never intended these laws to govern everyday farm and ranch activity. When the mandate issues, nearly 200,000 farmers and ranchers will be on the hook to report low-level livestock manure odors to the government.”
  • Endangered Species Act: “Cattle producers throughout the country continue to suffer the brunt of regulatory and economic uncertainty due to the abuse of the Endangered Species Act…Years of abusive litigation by radical environmental groups have taken a toll, and the result is a system badly in need of modernization.”

Mr. Hansen – a third-generation rancher and industry leader in environmental stewardship – asked Congress to empower ranchers and local land managers by reducing the regulatory burdens they face.

“By freeing our industry from overly burdensome federal regulations and allowing us to provide the kind of stewardship and ecosystem services only we can, you will do more for healthy ecosystems and environments than top down restrictions from Washington ever can,” he said.

Outcome Based Grazing Allows Flexible Livestock Management on Public Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched a demonstration program allowing stakeholders in the grazing community an opportunity to achieve rangeland health goals on public land while allowing greater flexibility in livestock management decisions. The program focuses on responsive outcome based grazing on public lands.

Six to twelve “Outcome-Based Grazing Authorizations” will be identified by the BLM in the first twelve months, and the selected permittees will participate in the demonstration program. Participants will actively implement a responsive grazing management plan to achieve habitat and vegetation goals on public land. The program will examine the effectiveness of a more flexible approach to livestock grazing on public land.

“Previously, ranchers have been held to a process and prescription method that tells them how to manage their land,” said Dave Eliason, Utah rancher and president of the Public Lands Council (PLC). “It’s irrational to think government officials can make a more informed decision than those who live and work on the land. When responsive management decisions fall into the hands of those who best understand it, the land, animals, and ecosystem thrive.”

Craig Uden said the cattle industry is pleased by the Trump Administration’s push to support grazing on public land and stressed the value of shared stewardship and trust that is established through this program.

“The livestock industry is thankful for the leadership of Secretary Zinke in establishing a demonstration program that allows flexibility in the ability to manage conditions on the ground,” said Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “This decision ensures our public lands are managed in an efficient and sustainable way.”

The announcement of this program coincides with the execution of a new Cooperative Monitoring Memorandum of Understanding between the Public Lands Council and the BLM during PLC’s annual meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Permittees, Lessees, rangeland ecologists, and other stakeholders are eligible for the program. Interested participants should contact their local BLM office. Project proposals will be accepted through Oct. 13. For more information, visit www.blm.gov.

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The Public Lands Council (PLC) actively represents cattle and sheep producers who hold public lands grazing permits. The PLC achieves this through leadership, engagement, and collaboration with western ranchers who preserve our nation’s natural resources while providing vital food and fiber to the nation and the world. For more information please visit the PLC website at www.publiclandscouncil.org.

Public Lands Stewards Recognized by BLM at PLC Meeting

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced three 2017 Rangeland Stewardship Award recipients at the Public Lands Council (PLC) Annual Meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz. Recipients included Utah rancher, Bill Kennedy, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and The Stewardship Alliance of Northeastern Elko County.

“Public lands ranchers plan their operation around sustaining a healthy, diverse and productive rangeland,” said Dave Eliason, Utah rancher and president of the Public Lands Council. “They invest time, money and resources into the process and it’s exciting to see some of these phenomenal ranchers recognized for their efforts.”

Kennedy, the recipient of The Rangeland Stewardship Permittee Award, runs an operation on a combination of federal, private, and state land located southeast of Bear Lake, Utah. Kennedy was recognized for his leadership in livestock management and advocating for proper grazing on public lands.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association received The Rangeland Stewardship Collaborate Team Award. The 150-year-old organization has promoted multiple use and sustainable land management through producer-facing programs. The organization also was commended for establishing a productive setting for mediation services and supporting Sagebrush Steppe management objectives.

The Stewardship Alliance of Northeastern Elko County received The Sagebrush Steppe Collaborative Team Award for their work to conserve sagebrush ecosystems while supporting multiple use management. The group of landowners, public land users, and resource agency specialist developed an ecosystem conservation plan designed to protect Greater Sage-grouse and Sagebrush Steppe habitats.
Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council emphasized the importance of the stewardship awards.

“It has been a privilege for the Public Lands Council to host this award ceremony for the last several years,” said Lane. “Public land ranchers continually exemplify the best conservation and stewardship practices, and are highly deserving of the recognition.”

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.