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Laws and Regulations

The Taylor Grazing Act


The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 (43 USC 315), signed by President Roosevelt, was intended to stop injury to the public grazing lands (excluding Alaska) by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration; to provide for their orderly use, improvement, and development; and to stabilize the livestock industry dependent upon the public range." This Act was pre- empted by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA).

Nearly 80 million acres of land valuable for grazing and forage crops were available to be placed into grazing districts authorized by the Taylor Grazing Act. To administer these grazing districts, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes created a Division of Grazing. A series of meetings with ranchers and state officials determined grazing district boundaries. The first grazing district (Rawlins), was established in Wyoming on March 20, 1935; others soon followed. By June 1935, over 65 million acres had been placed in grazing districts. All the established grazing districts are still in effect today.

In 1939, the Division of Grazing was renamed the U.S. Grazing Service. On July 16, 1946, the Grazing Service and the General Land Office merged to form the Bureau of Land Management.

Under the current grazing regulations at 43 Code of Federal Regulations Part 4100, there are four differences in BLM's administration of livestock grazing on section 15 leases and section 3 permits.

Section 3 of the Act

Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act concerns grazing permits issued on public lands within the grazing districts established under the Act. It gave leasing preference to landowners and homesteaders in or adjacent to the grazing district lands. Permits were issued for not more than 10 years.

Base Property Requirements: Base property is land, owned or controlled by a BLM permittee, which serves as the permittees' base for a livestock operation. The land must be capable of producing crops or forage that can be used to support livestock for a specified period of time. Under a section 3 permit, the base property does not have to adjoin the public lands being used for grazing livestock.

Domestic Use Grazing Permits: Section 5 of the Taylor Grazing Act and the grazing regulations made provision for the issuance of free subsistence grazing permits on public lands inside a grazing district. There was no similar provision for free domestic use or subsistence grazing on the section 15 lease lands.

Base Property Requirements: As described under "Section 3" above, base property is land, owned or controlled by a BLM permittee or lessee, which may serve as a base for a livestock operation. The land must have the capability to produce crops or forage that can be used to support the livestock authorized for a specified period of time. The base property supporting a section 15 grazing lease must adjoin the leased public lands unless no applicant owns adjoining lands. In most cases, the base property for a section 15 lease adjoins, surrounds, or is intermingled with the leased public lands.

Preference Lease Rights of Isolated Tracts: The Taylor Grazing Act and the current regulations provide for giving a preference to applicants having base property which adjoins or corners the public lands they apply to lease. The preference right to lease the whole tract is given where the public lands consist of isolated tracts embracing 760 acres or less. This lease preference is available for a period of 90 days after the tract has been offered for lease.

From 1934 to 1968, grazing use on the 16 million acres of Section 15 public lands was authorized under 10-year leases. Grazing fees were assessed on an acreage basis. Lessees were required to pay the lease regardless of whether or not they actually had livestock on the leased lands. No provisions were made for refund or nonpayment due to drought, fire, or other factors.

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976

The Federal Land Policy and Management Policy Act of 1976 (FLPMA) was passed to establish policy for managing BLM administered public lands. To ensure long-term stability and use of BLM administered public lands by the livestock industry, FLPMA authorized 10 year grazing permits and required a two year notice of cancellation. The Act also directed grazing advisory boards (formed under the Taylor Grazing Act) to guide the BLM in developing allotment management plans and allocating range betterment funds.

Unlike the Taylor Grazing Act, FLPMA did not distinguish between grazing permits and leases. In sections 401 through 403 of FLPMA, which deals with grazing management on the public lands, the term "permit or lease" appears over 25 times together and never as only "permit" or "lease." The clear intent of Congress is that BLM's grazing administration on all public lands be consistent for both permits and leases.

The BLM's grazing regulations were changed in July 1978 to eliminate separate sections addressing administration of section 3 permits and section 15 leases. This made the regulations consistent with the language of FLPMA in that no distinction is made between permits and leases.

Section 3023 Grazing Permits and Leases of PL 113-291 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2015

Section 402 of FLPMA showing National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Amendments

Selective Management Policy

The BLM's selective management policy is used extensively in administering grazing leases.  The selective management policy requires that BLM apply its limited workforce and budget to those lands providing the greatest potential for improvement and public benefit.  Grazing allotments are separated into three management categories: "I" (improve), "M" (maintain), and "C" (custodial). Generally, leases consisting of small, isolated tracts of public lands are managed custodially. BLM's major emphasis on the custodial leases is with various administrative actions such as billings, lease renewals, and transfers. On the larger blocks of public land that offer the best opportunity for multiple use management initiatives, BLM works with the grazing lessees to take actions or authorize uses to achieve various resource management objectives. In other words, the BLM's management and administration of custodial or "C" category allotments is similar to the old (pre-1968) section 15 leases. Administration of grazing on the larger blocks of public land in the "I" and "M" categories is similar to administration of section 3 permits.

Standards and Guidelines

Standards for Healthy Rangelands and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management became effective August 21, 1995 in accordance with the Department of Interior's final rule for grazing administration. The development and application of these standards and guidelines are to achieve the four fundamentals of rangeland health outlined in the grazing regulations (43 CFR 4180.1). Those four fundamentals are: (1) watersheds are functioning properly; (2) water, nutrients, and energy is cycling properly; (3) water quality meets state standards; and (4) habitat for special status species is protected.

Standards address the health, productivity, and sustainability of the BLM administered-public rangelands and represent the minimum acceptable conditions for the public rangelands. The standards apply to all resource uses on public lands. Guidelines provide for, and guide the development and implementation of, reasonable, responsible, and cost-effective management practices at the grazing allotment and watershed level. The guidelines are management practices that will either maintain existing desirable conditions or move rangelands toward statewide standards within reasonable time frames.

Nevada Standards and Guidelines

Grazing Regulation Changes

Other changes that became effective August 21, 1995 that occurred with the Department of the Interior's final rule for grazing administration are:

  • Management of the public lands in section 3 and section 15 are now the same.
  • The distribution of grazing fees remains the same as it was under the Taylor Grazing Act.
  • Leases are issued for section 15 and permits are issued for section 3.
  • Livestock being leased from/or pastured for someone else are subject to a surcharge.