Range Management :: Permitting | Monitoring | Range Improvements

Grazing permits

Guided by Federal law and regulations, the BLM permits grazing on about 157 million of the 245 million acres of public land it administers nationwide.  Grazing permits contain terms and conditions designed to ensure that management and resource-condition objectives — as outlined in land-use plans and Rangeland Health Standards — are achieved.

Every grazing permit sets out 1) the kind and number of livestock,
 2) period(s) of use, and 3) the number of AUMs allocated to the permittee.  AUMs — animal unit months — are the standard measure of forage.  An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and calf, or five sheep, or two burros, or one horse for one month.  The BLM may attach other terms and conditions it believes are necessary to manage livestock so as to avoid or minimize impacts to rangeland resources.  Permits are generally issued for 10 years at a time and are renewable when the permittee is meeting terms and conditions. 

three cows grazing

herding dog guards a flock of sheep
Photo: Lava Lake Ranch                                                                                       

Grazing fees

The fee for grazing livestock on Federal public lands is adjusted each year based on a formula set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978.  This statutory formula was modified and extended by a 1986 Executive Order.

The grazing fee is calculated on a per-AUM basis adjusted each year for three factors: 

  o  the rate for leasing private grazing land
  o  beef cattle prices
  o  and the cost of livestock production. 

The fee may not be lower than $1.35 per AUM and may not rise or fall more than 25% compared to the previous year's fee.

cattle drive in fog

Trailing is the temporary herding of livestock from one permitted location to another, using a designated route.  The BLM issues crossing permits for trailing, separate from permits authorizing grazing in particular allotments.  Crossing permits are a type of temporary use authorization.

An applicant may obtain a crossing permit after showing a need to trail livestock on public lands for proper and lawful purposes, and following completion of analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and public notification. 

                   Photo: Chris Black Cattle