Agencies Refuse to Raise Paltry Fee for Destructive Cattle Grazing on 258 Million Acres of Public Land

For Immediate Release


Taylor McKinnon, (928) 310-6713

Agencies Refuse to Raise Paltry Fee for Destructive Cattle Grazing on 258 Million Acres of Public Land

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management on Monday announced
that in 2011 they will not increase the paltry $1.35 monthly fee
charged for each cow and calf grazed by the livestock industry on
western public land. The fee remains far below what the agencies spend
to administer grazing permits, far below market rates, and far short of
providing revenue needed to correct the severe ecological damage caused
by grazing. Habitat destruction caused by livestock is a primary
factor in the decline of dozens of rare and endangered species
including the desert tortoise, Mexican spotted owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell’s vireo, Mexican gray wolf, Oregon spotted frog and Chiricahua leopard frog. Grazing is also a primary cause of unnaturally severe western wildfires, watershed degradation, soil loss and the spread of invasive plants. 

“Livestock grazing destroys western public
land and the habitat that species need to survive,” said Taylor
McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The federal grazing
program makes the public subsidize public-land destruction and species
endangerment. That the Obama administration continues such an
antiquated, destructive and costly use of Americans’ public lands is
the exact opposite of change.”  

The fees apply to livestock grazing across
258 million acres of western public land run by the Forest Service and
BLM — 81 percent of the land administered by the two agencies in the 11
western states. There are about 23,600 public-lands ranchers,
representing roughly 6 percent of all livestock producers west of the
Mississippi River.

A 1986 executive order and 1978’s Public Rangelands
Improvement Act prohibit the fee from falling below $1.35 per animal
unit month, which is only 12 cents more than monthly rates charged in

A 2005 Government Accountability Office report
 found that BLM and Forest Service grazing receipts fail to recover
even 15 percent of administrative costs and are much lower than fees
charged by other federal agencies, states and private ranchers. The GAO
found that the BLM and Forest Service grazing fee decreased by 40
percent from 1980 to 2004, while grazing fees charged by private
ranchers increased by 78 percent for the same period. To recover
expenditures, the BLM and Forest Service would have had to charge $7.64
and $12.26 per animal unit month, respectively.


At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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