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Bureau of Land Management
For Release: Monday, March 3, 2003

Federal Register Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Federal Register Notice of Intent
Washington, DC Scoping Meeting Transcript (386KB PDF)
Albuquerque, NM Scoping Meeting Transcript (510KB PDF)
Reno, NV Scoping Meeting Transcript (773KB PDF)
Billings, MT Scoping Meeting Transcript (511KB PDF)

Contact:
Tom Gorey
(202) 452-5137
 

BLM Publishes Notices on Potential Changes to Grazing Regulations

The Bureau of Land Management today published two notices in the Federal Register that officially announce its consideration of grazing rule changes aimed at improving the agency’s management of the public rangelands.

“The changes under consideration would enhance community-based conservation and promote cooperative stewardship of the public rangelands,” said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke. “The potential changes would also improve BLM business practices and provide greater flexibility to managers and grazing permittees in the administration of public rangelands.”

Clarke said the changes being considered “reflect the Four Cs of Interior Secretary Gale Norton -- consultation, cooperation, and communication -- all in the service of conservation. The Four Cs are the basis for this Administration's new environmentalism, one that looks to those closest to the land -- rather than Washington, D.C. -- for answers to public land issues.”

The first of the BLM’s Federal Register notices, called an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), describes the general nature of the possible changes. The ANPR is only the first step in the rulemaking process. The second document, known as a Notice of Intent, announces the BLM’s intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act. The EIS will analyze the potential impact of the changes under consideration, as well as the potential effects of alternative options. The Bureau expects to publish its official proposed regulatory changes, in the form of a proposed grazing rule, during the summer.

Effective today (March 3), the public will have 60 days to comment on the ANPR, whose comment period will end May 2. During this same time period, the public will also be able to comment on the scope and other aspects of the EIS associated with the potential rules changes. The BLM will hold four EIS-related “scoping” meetings in March at four sites:

  • Billings, Montana, on March 18, 6 pm-10 pm, Holiday Inn Grand Montana, 550 Midland Road (Contact: Mary Apple, 406-896-5258)

  • Reno, Nevada, on March 20, 6 pm-10 pm, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, 4590 S. Virginia St. (Contact: JoLynn Worley, 775-861-6515)

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 25, 6 pm-10 pm, at the Albuquerque Hilton, 1901 University Boulevard N.E. (Contact: Kitty Mulkey, 505-438-7511)

  • Washington, D.C., on March 27, 1 pm-5 pm, at the Courtyard by Marriott (General Scott Room), 1600 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. (Contact: Tom Gorey, 202-452-5137)

Copies of the grazing-related Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Intent can be obtained from any of the BLM's State Offices or accessed from the Bureau's national Internet Web site (www.blm.gov/nhp/news/regulatory/index.htm) or the Federal Register Web site (www.access.gpo.gov).

The regulatory changes under consideration by the BLM would:

  • Extend the time for a grazing permittee’s temporary nonuse of a permit from the current three-year limit to five years.

  • Authorize the BLM to designate a new type of grazing unit called “Reserve Common Allotments.” Ranchers could use these allotments for livestock forage while their normal allotments undergo range improvement treatment.

  • Reinstate an earlier provision that allows the BLM and a grazing permittee to share title of certain range improvements -- such as a fence, well, or pipeline -- if they are constructed under what is known as a Cooperative Range Improvement Agreement.

  • Streamline the administrative appeals process relating to grazing decisions.

  • Clarify which non-permit violations the BLM may take into account in penalizing a permittee.

  • Revise administrative fees for permit applications, billings, and preference transfer. (The BLM is not considering any change to the existing grazing fee formula, which Congress established in 1978 and has continued by Executive Order since 1986.)

  • Clarify that the BLM will follow state law in the acquisition of water rights.

  • Re-emphasize that reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act will consider the economic, social, and cultural impacts of the BLM’s decisions.

  • Eliminate, in keeping with recent Federal court rulings, existing regulatory provisions that assert the BLM’s authority to issue long-term “conservation use” grazing permits. These permits were introduced in 1994.

The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land – 261 million surface acres -- than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1.9 billion and a workforce of some 10,000 full-time, permanent employees, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on the public lands.