WSGA protests BLM/USFS ‘9 plan’
July 2, 2015
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) has filed a formal protest to the "Wyoming Greater Sage-Grouse Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments." The proposed amendments apply to plans in six BLM Field Offices and three National Forests. WSGA has protested the proposed amendments on three significant issues that the association had previously raised in comments on the draft plan amendments.
The first issues of protest concerns the broad definition of a "disruptive activity" which could limit human presence in an area to not more than one hour out of each 24 hour period during the applicable season. This has the potential to preclude necessary livestock management activities such as herding, doctoring of sick animals, placement of salt and the actions essential to proper grazing management.
WSGA protested language regarding the retirement of grazing allotments when permits are voluntarily relinquished. WSGA maintains that this provision is clearly outside the scope of the authorities granted by statute and regulation to the two land agencies regarding the process for considering closure of areas to grazing for other than resource-related conditions.
Finally, WSGA has objected to the plan amendment's failure to adhere to the principles outlined in Governor Mead's Executive Order 2013-3 which was developed with considerable input from the federal agencies. This EO recognizes that proper livestock grazing is not a threat to sage grouse and establishes a clear process for addressing incidents of demonstrated improper grazing. It is consistent with the position of the U.;S. Fish and Wildlife Service that grazing is not a primary threat to sage grouse.
WSGA maintains that these provisions, as well as others not addressed in our protest, may be subject to legal challenge. More importantly, they are directly contrary to the spirit of state and locally driven initiatives that are being heralded as the most successful effort to date to recover a species and avoid a listing under the ESA.