This Policy is Inactive
Expired on:

Process for Setting Priorities for Issuing Grazing Permits and Leases

IM 2009-018
Instruction Memorandum





October28, 2008


In Reply Refer To:

4000 (220) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-018

Expires:  09/30/2010


To:                   AFOs (except AK, ESO and Center Directors)

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Process for Setting Priorities for Issuing Grazing Permits and Leases

Program Area:  Rangeland Management

Purpose:  The purpose of this policy is to ensure land health considerations are the primary basis for prioritizing the processing of grazing permits and leases (authorizations) and for monitoring the effectiveness of grazing management.  This direction applies to grazing authorizations expiring in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and beyond.

Policy:  Field Offices shall classify allotments into one of three categories and prioritize the work associated with processing and issuing grazing authorizations for use of those allotments as described below.

The allotment categories and criteria distinguishing them are described in Attachment 1.  Use the criteria in Attachment 1 to assign all allotments in your office to one of the three categories.  Attachment 2 is a flow chart showing the steps for processing grazing authorizations based on the assigned category.  Allotment Management Category is currently recorded in the Rangeland Administration System (RAS) database.  Any changes from the current Management Status Category must be recorded in RAS.

Areas with Category I allotments are the highest priority for processing authorizations, actively managing uses, and monitoring achievement of land health standards.  Existing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents need to be reviewed for adequacy when issuing grazing authorizations on Category I allotments.  If circumstances or conditions have changed, or changes in management are proposed, additional analysis may be necessary.  Appropriate levels of monitoring of Category M allotments need to be completed to ensure standards and Resource Management Plan (RMP) goals and objectives continue to be met.  Existing NEPA documents for grazing authorizations for use in Category M and C allotments should be reviewed for adequacy.  Existing NEPA documents should be adequate when no changes are proposed and conditions have not changed.  A categorical exclusion (CX) under 516 Departmental Manual 11.9D (11) may be appropriate for grazing authorizations for Category M or C allotments when criteria for the CX are met and no extraordinary circumstances are present. 

Complete work tasks for processing grazing authorizations, including monitoring and evaluating land health, in the following order:

First Priority is to process grazing authorizations with Category I allotments using land health evaluations, to monitor areas not achieving land health standards, and to monitor Category M allotments.  If the land health evaluation is not already completed for the Category I allotments, then complete the evaluation of land health standards before processing and issuing the authorization(s).  Use the evaluations to document whether land health standards are achieved or not achieved.  Use the determination document to identify causal factors where standards are not achieved and to develop a proposed action and alternatives to comply with NEPA.  Monitor Category I allotments and other areas not achieving land health standards (allotments, watersheds, or other evaluation area as described in Handbook H-4180-1 Rangeland Health Standards) to detect whether there is significant progress toward meeting land health standards and land use plan objectives.  Monitor Category M allotments to ensure land health standards continue to be met.  As directed in Handbook H-4180-1, monitoring in areas that are not meeting land health standards needs to focus on the indicators that an area did not meet land health standards. 

Second Priority is to process grazing authorizations with Category M allotments, complete land health evaluations on Category M allotments where not already completed, and to monitor Category C allotments.  Where available, use land health evaluations and determination documents to process grazing authorizations.  If evaluations and determinations are not already complete, use available information to complete NEPA analysis when processing the authorizations for grazing in Category M allotments.  Monitor Category C allotments to detect changes in condition related to land health standards.  Monitoring these areas is usually less intensive and less frequent than for the other two categories. 

Third Priority is to process grazing authorizations with Category C allotments.  Process the grazing authorizations with Category C allotments using existing information.  Complete evaluations on Category C allotments if events (fire, drought, etc) have changed condition of the lands or when first and second priority work has been completed.

When an authorization applies to multiple allotments in multiple categories, process it based on the highest priority category.  For example, if a permit authorizes grazing on Category I and C allotments, ensure that the land health evaluation for the Category I allotment is completed and use that information to develop the NEPA document for that allotment.  Use existing information to analyze the effects of the proposed grazing on the Category C allotment.  Issue the grazing decision in accordance with Title 43 CFR subpart 4160 for the entire authorization based on these analyses, then issue the authorization.  If subsequent monitoring and evaluation identify the need to adjust grazing in either of the allotments, then process and issue an adjusted authorization as needed. 

If an allotment has multiple authorizations (a “common use” allotment), field offices should employ a single NEPA compliance process for the allotment to analyze the effects of all the authorizations using that allotment.  Based on that analysis, terms and conditions can be developed for each authorization, which can then be issued.

It is desirable, but not required, to complete land health evaluations on Category M and C allotments before processing grazing authorizations.  Where existing monitoring data can be used to evaluate land health standards and make determinations in areas with Category M and C allotments, complete the evaluations in accordance with the priorities.  If evaluations are not completed, use the best available information for analyzing alternatives in the NEPA document.  This may include monitoring data, information from other state and federal agencies, or previous NEPA documents.

If funding and staffing resources are limited, then the focus should be on the areas with Category I allotments, where management of uses and resources provide the greatest opportunity to meet land health standards and achieve land use plan goals and objectives.  Monitoring Category I allotments where it has been determined that standards are not achieved is essential for determining progress toward achieving land health standards.

Timeframe:  This policy is effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  None

Background:  Approximately 87 percent of the grazing authorizations (permits and leases) that have expired since 1999 have been fully processed with NEPA documentation and appropriate Section 7 Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation completed.  In 2009 and 2010, about 5,400 authorizations will expire.  Many of these authorizations are for use in allotments that have been evaluated for achievement of land health standards and NEPA has been completed.  Current livestock grazing has been a significant causal factor for not meeting land health standards on about 14 percent of the allotments that have been evaluated since 1998.  While field offices need to evaluate the condition of unevaluated areas, they also need to monitor those allotments where livestock management was adjusted to make progress toward achieving standards.  This policy is intended in part to help set priorities for monitoring and to emphasize management of those areas where standards are not met.  Areas that are meeting standards need to be monitored, but in most cases, not as frequently as those areas where progress toward meeting standards needs to be determined.  As directed in Handbook 4180-1, Rangeland Health Standards, monitoring in areas that are not meeting standards needs to be designed to collect information on those indicators that the area did not meet standards. 

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  Manual Handbook H-1740-1, Renewable Resource Improvement and Treatment Guidelines and Procedures (Rel. 1-1509, 12/17/87).  This Instruction Memorandum adds criteria to Allotment Categorization Process, found in Appendix 1, Illustration 3.

Coordination:  Solicitor’s Office, Deputy State Directors, State Lead Range Management Specialists, WO-200 Division Chiefs

Contact:  If you have questions regarding this policy, please contact Dick Mayberry, Rangeland Management Specialist, Division of Rangeland Resources, at (202) 452-7750, or Rob Roudabush, Chief, Division of Rangeland Resources, at (202) 785-6569.



Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:

Edwin L. Roberson                                         Robert M. Williams

Assistant Director                                           Division of IRM Governance,WO-560

Renewable Resources and Planning



2 Attachments

       1- Allotment Categories (1 p)

       2- Flow Chart for Issuing Grazing Permits and Leases (1 p)