Ranchers to Help Defend Grazing Regulations
WASHINGTON - The Public Lands Council (PLC), an organization of public lands ranchers throughout the West, has joined in a lawsuit to help defend the final grazing regulations issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The PLC represents the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Sheep Industry and the Association of National Grasslands.
“The new regulations stabilize the climate for operating ranches on BLM lands by encouraging good stewardship of those lands,” says PLC Executive Director Jeff Eisenberg. “In developing these final rules, the BLM has restored the balance between resource conservation and range management. These are policies PLC and its members are willing to protect with their hard-earned dollars.”
Upon publication on July 12, the Western Watersheds Project immediately filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Idaho to block the regulations. A second suit was also filed by the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Idaho Conservation League, and the Idaho Wildlife Federation.
PLC has retained Bill Thomas of the law firm Best Best & Kreiger to represent the ranchers’ views in this matter. Each side has the opportunity to make arguments at a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for July 28 in Boise, Idaho.
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.
“Ranchers fund and maintain range improvements, protect water resources, and install and repair fencing. These enhancements help to sustain wildlife habitat on the open range,” explains Eisenberg. “Ranchers are often the only human presence on the vast federal lands, and are they are first to detect new weed infestations and identify areas at risk for wildfires.”
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 the American West.
“Those who attack grazing fail to recognize the social and environmental benefits ranchers provide to the West,” says Eisenberg. “The BLM grazing regulations will help ranchers maintain a stable business climate and stay on the land, while mutually benefiting the environment and the American public.”