Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Wild Earth Guardians buying grazing permits from ranchers in the Gila National Forest

Wild Earth Guardians, a regional nonprofit organization devoted to protecting and restoring wildlife and wild places in the west, has come up with a new proposal, and they claim, a possible solution to the long-standing confrontation between environmental groups and ranchers. Wild Earth Guardians is offering to buy back ranchers' grazing allotments in the Gila National Forest. "This is a free-market approach that gives ranchers an alternative during challenging times," Bryan Bird, wild places program director for Wild Earth Guardians said. "We're trying to provide a viable opportunity for grazing permittees to voluntarily sell their permit." According to the Wild Earth Guardians, range capacity due to drought and wild life is rapidly changing in the Apache and Gila national forests. They say nearly 90 percent of the 4.2 million acres of forest service lands is currently authorized annually for grazing, but the numbers of cattle grazing that land are in decline. The Wild Earth Guardians claim that between 2003 and 2013, the number of individual permit holders decreased by 25 percent, family-owned corporations increased by 35 percent and non-family owned corporations increased from one to six. The program is still in its earliest stages of development. Started this past spring, so far only one deal has been reached with a rancher in Catron County. But Bird said he has gotten expressions of interest from other ranchers. He thinks Wild Earth Guardians will get a greater response from the ranching community as word continues to get out about the conservationists' offer. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, disagrees that this is a positive approach to a long-standing problem. Cowan calls the Wild Earth Guardians' claims "disingenuous." "Ranchers are being challenged because of Wild Earth Guardians and other people like them," Cowan said. Cowan claims that ranchers are struggling, not because of drought, but because of the regulations that she says come from the Forest Service as a result of litigation brought by the Wild Earth Guardians. Cowan said the litigation is aimed at getting animals added onto the endangered species' list...more


John Allen said...

Isn't it a requirement to graze the allotments or lose them? Wild Earth Guardians wont be able to retire the allotments. If they don't graze them they lose them to someone who will put them to beneficial use.

Anonymous said...

Permits are not for sale they are a privilege granted by the government steward to an individual or corporation to use the land for the purpose of grazing livestock. The only thing that can be sold are the permitted livestock or the commensurate property attached to the permit. Anything else is a violation of Federal Regulation. We know that the current administration has no regards for the law or regulation so there is no help there. The permit WILL be retired upon transfer and that is the plan.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was as nonprofit as Wild Earth Guardians. Wildlife and wild places are to be preserved in our National Parks, which is under US Department of Interior. There's a difference, US Forests were designated before a territory became a state as a place for resources, thus US Department of Agriculture. Ironically, if a US Forest is harvested correctly, trees and wild life thrives. In the southwest wildlife leaves National Parks and goes to US Forests. Forests fall apart when they are run by environmental groups.