LIVESTOCK GRAZING BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER DROUGHT
Nevada State Office Policies and Direction
BLM Nevada will make livestock use adjustments due to drought on a case by case basis in compliance with our multiple use mandate and applicable regulations. Actions to change livestock management will preferably be developed cooperatively by the permittee, other stakeholders, and BLM at the local level and implemented by agreement.
Often BLM’s first step in responding to drought is contacting the permittees and describing the conditions of concern and resource values at risk. This is often done with a letter. Discussions should begin early in the winter, at least three months before turn out or when changes need to be implemented, so the permittee can plan ahead.
Some relevant topics may include:
• Current conditions, perennial plant production and vigor has been effected by two years of low precipitation. One good winter snow storm does not negate the impacts of two years of drought.
• Areas not meeting rangeland health standards.
• Fire rehabilitation seedings and other burned areas that are two or three years old and might be opened for use in the coming year.
• Areas that had no or little annual production the previous year, especially due to drought.
• Areas with apparent plant mortality from any cause, persistent drought, Aroga moths, cheatgrass die off areas, uncertain causes.
• Areas with known poor conditions.
• Interactions among herbivores; wildlife, wild horses and burros, and livestock.
• Alternative sources of livestock range or forage.
Initially, all options are available. Allotment or area analysis and coordination will determine what management is appropriate, available, and applicable. In cases where agreement on necessary actions cannot be reached, BLM may issue decisions or full force and effect decisions in compliance with 43 CFR 4160 and 43 CFR 4110.3-3(b). Issuing decisions will be the last resort, after coordination and negotiation have been unsuccessful. If an emergency situation arises that meets the criteria in 4110.3-3(b), BLM could issue a full force and effect decision.
Human nature makes drought planning during the winter difficult. People are optimistic that it will rain and snow enough at the right times for a good year. This often results in putting off decisions until the last minute. The situation in the Great Basin is further complicated by cheatgrass. While a year may turn out to be drouthy with poor production of perennial species, one well-timed storm can still produce abundant cheatgrass setting the stage for a green spring followed by large wildland fires.