BLM’s St. George Field Office makes public lands in Washington County available for livestock grazing through permits issued under the Taylor Grazing Act. Grazing by livestock has been an historical use of the public lands since European settlers first arrived in this area in 1857. Grazing occurs in specifically delineated allotments which may contain a mixture of private, state, and public lands. Allotments may be further divided into pastures to help manage how, when, and where livestock are permitted to graze. By regulation, grazing permittees are usually offered a 10-year renewable permit that authorizes a season of use (e.g. year round, winter, or spring), a type of livestock (e.g. cattle, sheep, or horses), and a preference defined in Animal Unit Months (AUMs) or the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf for one month.
There are presently 99 grazing allotments on approximately 560,000 acres in the St. George Field Office with 87 grazing permittees. A total of 28,424 AUMs are authorized for livestock use. Actual use may be less than that which is authorized due to the effects of drought, fire-related closures, or reduced herd size. Nearly half of the total allotments run 10 head of livestock or less. Eight of the allotments are managed jointly with multiple permittees running livestock under a common management plan.
To promote proper livestock control and distribution, BLM authorizes rangeland developments including cattle guards, water developments, and pasture or drift fences. These may be constructed by BLM, by the permittee, or jointly through the use of cooperative agreements. Water developments are designed to meet additional needs for wildlife populations. Vegetation treatments may also be applied to portions of the allotments to establish desired plant communities to benefit both livestock and wildlife. These include approaches such as prescribed burns, thinning of pinyon and juniper tree stands, and reseeding of suitable areas.
BLM objectives for grazing management on public lands throughout Washington County, Utah are to:
- promote healthy, sustainable rangeland ecosystems that produce a wide range of public values such as wildlife habitat, livestock forage, recreation opportunities, clean water, and safe and functional watersheds;
- restore and improve public rangelands to properly functioning condition, where needed;
- provide for the sustainability of the western livestock industry and communities that are dependent upon productive, healthy rangelands; and
- ensure that public land users and stakeholders have a meaningful voice in establishing policy and managing public rangelands. (see St. George Field Office Resource Management Plan, March 1999).