The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issues leases to graze livestock on Federal lands to qualified applicants. Since the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976, the BLM has had responsibility for implementing the Taylor Act, along with other duties under FLPMA to ensure the long-term health and productivity of all public lands and the resources found on them.
FLPMA, along with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act, and other Federal laws and regulations, guide the BLM in managing the public lands for a variety of uses — a mandate that grows in complexity as the western U.S. grows and diversifies.
Today, for example, land previously used only for grazing might also be the site for recreation and energy development, while also containing priority habitat for sensitive wildlife species and unique cultural and historical resources.
Resource management plans are the framework for multiple-use management. Ongoing public involvement in planning is essential to responsible decisions and management actions in the public interest. NEPA guides the BLM in authorizing multiple uses of public lands and involving the public throughout the process. This ensures that the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands are sustained or even improved.
Managing livestock grazing in this context means managing for protection of rangeland resources such as riparian areas, threatened and endangered species, sensitive plant species, and cultural or historical objects. To this end, the BLM monitors rangeland health and inventories the various resources present on grazing allotments, and may adjust permit terms and conditions if rangeland health standards are not being achieved.
Rangeland improvements are also authorized in the multiple-use context, to enhance or improve grazing management, improve watershed conditions, protect or enhance wildlife habitat, for example. Installing an improvement is sometimes required to meet the terms and conditions of a grazing lease or permit.