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September 9, 2013
In Reply Refer To:
4000 (220) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2013-184
Expires 9/30/2014
To:                  All Field Officials
From:             Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:        Relinquishment of Grazing Permitted Use on the Bureau of Land Management
                      Administered Lands
Program Areas: Rangeland Management, Land Use Planning (LUP) excluding lands within the California Desert Conservation Area
Purpose: This instruction memorandum (IM) clarifies how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will process a grazing permittee’s or lessee’s request to relinquish their grazing permit and preference.  This IM also presents the BLM’s policy regarding—
  • How the BLM may reassign permitted use that has been relinquished to qualified applicant(s) pursuant to the grazing regulations; and
  • How the BLM may designate the relinquished area as no longer available for livestock grazing using the BLM’s LUP and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes. 
The BLM’s receipt of a relinquishment of permitted use does not, in and of itself, result in that forage allocation becoming unavailable for use by livestock. Reassigning a livestock forage allocation that has become available due to a relinquishment to a new or different permittee supports the BLM’s multiple-use mission. When evaluating potential management actions and opportunities following a relinquishment, managers should strive to develop management strategies that allow public lands to be used for livestock grazing while achieving other land use plan management goals and objectives.
Policy/Action: Processing a Relinquishment: Before the Authorized Officer (AO) processes a relinquishment; he/she must follow the guidelines outlined in Attachment 1, Section A. 
The AO will also inform and discuss with the person that is considering the relinquishment the items in Attachment 1, Section B. If after being informed of these and any other relevant matters a permittee/lessee decides to relinquish all or a part of their permitted use, they must submit a letter of relinquishment to the AO (refer to Attachment 1, Section C for an example). 
The processing of a relinquishment is similar to a grazing preference transfer; except that the relinquishment ends the party’s permitted use and preference instead of transferring it to another party. 
Allocation of Forage Resulting from a Relinquishment: If a livestock forage allocation is made available due to a relinquishment, it subsequently may be allocated to other grazing use applicants by the AO under 43 CFR 4110 (Qualifications and Preference) and authorized for grazing use under 43 CFR 4130 (Authorizing Grazing Use).
If the LUP states the area is open to grazing, the AO has three choices: receive applications for livestock grazing from qualified applicants; review the RMP for compliance or initiate a LUP amendment to designate the allotment(s) as a Reserve Common Allotment(s); or consider a LUP amendment/revision to allocate forage for a different purpose.
If the most recent allotment evaluation still reflects the current situation and conditions, and rangeland health standards or other criteria established by the AO are being met, the forage should be allocated to other qualified applicants. No further analysis is needed.
However, if one of the following situations exist: a) the most recent allotment evaluation does not reflect the current situation and conditions, b) rangeland health standards or other criteria established by the AO are not being met, or c) opportunities are presented to reallocate forage other than for livestock grazing, then the AO should examine and document whether continued livestock use of all or a part of that forage allocation would be compatible with achieving land use plan management goals and objectives. Such an examination may include: 1) the evaluation of relevant monitoring data and standards assessment information; 2) input and comment from State and local government, other Federal agencies, and the interested public; and 3) the consideration of applicable findings and recommendations of the Resource Advisory Council. At a minimum, the examination must consider the questions found in Attachment 1, Section D.
If after the examination the AO determines that additional analysis is needed to evaluate options for other multiple-use values, the BLM will initiate a plan amendment and analyze a range of reasonable alternatives pursuant to the requirements of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and NEPA. Refer to Handbook-1601-1 Appendix C, Section B, Livestock Grazing, page 14, Land Use Planning Handbook, and this IM. 

Depending on the issues, potential alternatives can range from awarding the available permitted use to one or more qualified applicants (the No Action alternative) to discontinuing the authorization of livestock grazing on all or part of the affected allotment(s).[1]The analysis should consider the relative values and tradeoffs between other possible land uses within the area with the intent of achieving other land use plan management goals and objectives. Attachment 2 is a decision tree that illustrates this process.  

As a part of this process, the BLM is not required to analyze whether the area covered by the relinquished permit is “chiefly valuable for grazing” unless the Bureau is considering a recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior to remove public lands from, or add public lands to, a grazing district established under Section 1 of the Taylor Grazing Act. This policy is in accordance with the May 13, 2003, Solicitor’s Memorandum to the Assistant Secretaries for Policy, Management and Budget, Land and Minerals Management and the Director, Bureau of Land Management, clarifying the Solicitor’s Memorandum M-37008 (issued October 4, 2002). This memorandum notes that the BLM’s LUP decision to graze or not graze livestock is not permanent and can be revised by plan amendments and revisions. In addition, FLPMA requires that any management decision or action pursuant to a management decision that excludes livestock grazing for two or more years with respect to a tract of land 100,000 acres or more, shall be reported to Congress (refer to FLPMA Section 202 (e)(2)).
Resource degradation due to currently authorized grazing practices must not be allowed to continue even if a permittee has expressed interest in, but has not yet actually submitted, a relinquishment. The prospect of a relinquishment should not postpone the resolution of resource issues where current livestock grazing practices are significantly contributing to not meeting rangeland health standards. Issues surrounding these resource conditions need to be resolved as quickly as possible and remedial action to address them should not be delayed based on the expectation of a future relinquishment. 
In certain circumstances, it is appropriate to identify areas in the LUP (e.g., urban interface areas) where upon receiving a relinquishment, the manager would be expected to evaluate whether livestock grazing is in the best interest of achieving management plan goals.  In such circumstances, a LUP decision to no longer authorize livestock grazing on the subject area should be used only following a BLM determination that there are no feasible and practicable solutions readily available that can resolve livestock grazing issues in a timely manner. If circumstances allow for resolution of the issues, a previous decision may be replaced by a subsequent LUP decision that allows livestock use to resume on the subject area. 

Timeframe: This guidance is in effect immediately.

Background: A relinquishment of permitted use includes a portion, or all, of the Animal Unit Months (AUM) (permitted use) identified on the grazing permit or lease, as well as the grazing preference. 

At times, a permittee or lessee may relinquish their BLM grazing permit or lease and preference, either for personal or financial reasons, or because expanding urban development or other resource use demands on public lands present irresolvable conflicts with their grazing operation. In other circumstances, entities have either acquired base property and approached the BLM with a relinquishment proposal or have negotiated with an existing permittee to request a relinquishment with the intent of ending livestock grazing and promoting other land uses or resource values. Some have done so under the mistaken assumption that a relinquishment of permitted use automatically results in the public land where that permitted use was authorized becoming no longer available for livestock grazing.  In fact, whether or not specific lands are available for livestock grazing use is a land use planning decision and a relinquishment, in and of itself, does not change that planning decision.

The Appropriations Act of 2012, Section 122 (b) “Acceptance of Donation of Certain Existing Permits or Leases,” requires the Secretary of the Interior to accept the donation of any valid existing permits or leases authorizing grazing on public lands within the California Desert Conservation Area. This IM does not cover relinquishments under that authority. Additional instructions for that process are covered in IM CA-2013-006.

Budget Impact: Costs are dependent on whether or not a LUP amendment is required to address other management opportunities as a result of a relinquishment.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: Qualifications and Preference (H-4110-1), Grazing Management (H-4120-1), and Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1).
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with the Divisions of Decision and Support, Planning and NEPA; Forest, Rangeland, Riparian and Plant Conversation; and Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
Contact: For further information contact, Bob Bolton, Senior Rangeland Management Specialist, at (202) 912-7204.
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      Ambyr Fowler
Assistant Director                                                        Division of IRM Governance, WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
2 Attachments

[1]If the selected alternative is the former, then going forward the successful applicant will receive a preference over other applicants for continued permitted use.  

Last updated: 09-23-2013