Butte Range Program stretches range improvement funds through Cooperative Agreements

Story and photos by Carmela Romerio, Rangeland Management Specialist, Butte Field Office

Fence Recon Project
Fence crossing the riparian at
Boomerang Creek. Such areas
see heavy cattle use and require
annual maintenance.

The BLM is widely known for completing cooperative weed spray days with community and permittees. This summer, however, the Butte Field Office range program applied that concept to a different sort of project.

They teamed up with the grazing permittees to rebuild three quarters of a mile of a 70+ year old fence in Jefferson County.

Fence Recon Project
Clint Rieder, Permittee & Vickie Anderson,
BLM Range Technician, build a gate.

The six-day project brought the BLM and permittees together to jointly reconstruct an allotment boundary fence. Both the BLM and permittees provided materials and labor. Participants included the BLM’s Nate Moore, Conor Mcnamara, Davey Sandoval, Greg Campbell, Vickie Anderson and Carmela Romerio; and permittees Clint and Dave Rieder of Rieder Ranches and Brian Hattersley from Skytop Ranches.

Maintenance responsibilities for cooperative range improvements typically belong to the permittee. However, when the price of deteriorated improvements exceeds that of reconstruction costs, the responsibility generally lies with the BLM.

Heavy mortality from mountain pine beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, and spruce budworm have caused wide-spread dead and dying timber across the Butte Field Office. Unfortunately, many dead trees have fallen onto the range improvement fences. This, in combination with degraded old fences, makes maintenance and replacement repairs difficult and costly.

Range improvement funds are allocated based upon public lands grazing fee receipts derived from BLM range permitees. The funding received by the Butte Field Office is minimal and doesn’t cover the replacement costs of the range improvements. More than 600 miles of fence in the Butte Field Officer that were constructed in the early 1940s need reconstruction. The BLM encourages contributions from permittees and the use of cooperative agreements to facilitate improved grazing management while enhancing multiple uses.