To promote grazing practices
that will protect primary habitat
and minimize adverse effects

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Depending of the condition of the habitat and the practices used, livestock grazing 
can have localized adverse effects on sage-grouse habitat.  In other situations, grazing can be used as a tool to protect intact habitat and increase its extent and continuity.

Under financial constraints that are increasingly common, enhanced management of livestock 
grazing may be the most cost-effective opportunity for improving sage-grouse habitat on public lands.

Land health, habitat protection

Many of the standards for rangeland health that guide livestock grazing management on public lands also support the maintenance, enhancement and restoration of sage-grouse habitat.  In this way, the BLM's policy for managing grazing in priority sage-grouse habitat is the latest example of the multiple-use management mandated in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA)

Rangeland health standards and progress towards meeting them are an important tool in promoting grazing practices that protect priority sage-grouse habitat and minimize the adverse effects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found to be the primary threats to the species. Using rangeland health objectives to reduce threats to sage-grouse also helps ensure the future viability of multiple use on public rangelands.

Planning for maintenance & improvement

BLM policy directs field-level staff and managers to analyze and document direct, indirect and cumulative effects of grazing on Greater sage-grouse and its habitats when planning or authorizing livestock grazing and any associated range improvements. 

When the BLM considers permit renewals, the environmental analysis must address a range of alternatives that includes actions that would improve sage-grouse habitat.  The policy calls for analyzing a reasonable range of alternatives – for example, no-grazing/significantly reduced grazing, current grazing levels, and increased grazing – and at least one alternative that involves a deferred or rest-rotation system. 

In the past, planning for and analyzing the effects of livestock grazing was most often done at a local scale, often allotment by allotment.  Current efforts to protect sage-grouse habitat in the context of multiple use emphasize the need to take a landscape-scale look, to see how various uses and activities may inter-relate. 

When deciding on grazing permit renewals, BLM managers will strive to evaluate groups of allotments together, where this makes sense scientifically and administratively – for example, within a watershed or delineated geographical area, like those in the Owyhee Grazing Permit Renewal Project.

Managers may also incorporate multiple allotments under a single management plan or strategy where doing so would enhance a sage-grouse population or habitat.  This is the approach the BLM is taking in renewing grazing permits in the Shoshone Basin/Browns Bench area of the Burley Field Office.

:: Owyhee Grazing Permit Renewal Project 
   Group 1 Environmental Assessment | September 2012

The BLM has analyzed the potential effects of renewing 4 grazing permits located adjacent to each other on about 252,000 acres of public land in far southwestern Owyhee County, Idaho, in an environmental assessment (EA). 

The EA explores the relationship among authorized livestock grazing, rangeland health, other uses of the lands in the allotments, and natural events like wildfires.  There are five alternatives, ranging from No Action (Alt. 1) to No Grazing (Alt. 5).  Alt. 1 serves as a baseline for comparing environmental effects of the other alternatives and so represents continuation of actions that have led to current conditions.  Alts. 3, 4 and 5 either actively or passively conserve, enhance or restore sage-grouse habitat within the allotments. |> FAQs


a grazing allotment with sagebrush and other mixed vegetation

cows grazing near a hillside

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