LIVESTOCK ON AMERICA'S PUBLIC LANDS
Domestic livestock grazing is one of the most pervasive and damaging uses of U.S. public lands. Across the American West, millions of non-native sheep and cattle destroy vegetation, contaminate watersheds, spread invasive weeds, deprive native wildlife of forage and shelter, accelerate desertification, and contribute to global warming.
In addition to the destruction caused by livestock, ecosystems within the grazing allotments are being further damaged by prolonged drought and an increase in invasive grasses. Furthermore, threatened wildlife populations, changing attitudes about public lands management, and a burgeoning outdoor industry are increasing the demand to end this federal program. With the existential threat of the climate crisis looming, the need to restore the wilderness of the West is paramount.
BURDEN ON TAXPAYERS
There are approximately 25,000 federal grazing permits managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Subsidized by taxpayers, this outdated program costs Americans over $117 million a year. In fiscal year 2014, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $134 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $17 million in grazing fees.
A PLIGHT FOR WILD HORSES
In addition to native predators such as cougars, bears and wolves — wild horses are continually targeted for removal because of conflicts with domestic livestock on public lands. Through lobbying and lawsuits, the American mustang has become both a target and a scapegoat for the livestock industry's agenda to dominate and control public lands for their own grazing use.
Counter to false propaganda, scientific data shows that most allotments within wild horse Herd Management Areas that have failed rangeland health standards is due to overgrazing of livestock, not an overpopulation of wild horses.
A WIN-WIN SOLUTION
Introduced by Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA), H.R.6935, expands upon a successful model of landscape conservation. For several decades Congress has recognized that facilitating the buy-out of federal public lands grazing permits provides a market-based, cooperative tool that's a win-win for public lands, wildlife, and the grazing permittees.
VGPRA would provide grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for equitable compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity.
HELP KEEP PUBLIC LANDS WILD
Domestic livestock grazing on federal public lands is a leading cause of conflict with other uses, including wild horses and burros. If passed into federal law, the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (H.R.6935) would provide permit holders the option to relinquish their contractual agreements in exchange for a fair market price.
Help protect America's public lands, wild horses, and other wildlife by reaching out to your federal lawmakers. Urge them to support this vital legislation by becoming a cosponsor.