Thursday, March 07, 2013

Bill would designate Escalante ‘grazing zone’

The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to designate a ‘grazing zone’ over and around southern Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. HB382 is needed because grazing in the 1.9 million-acre monument is "severely threatened," according to Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, even though this historic use was specifically authorized under the federal monument’s 1996 proclamation. The designation is "an opportunity to identify grazing as a very important use and priority use within the Escalante region in Garfield and Kane County," Noel, himself a cattleman, told colleagues Tuesday. Noel’s claims were backed by lobbyists who alleged that the Bureau of Land Management is not sufficiently accommodating livestock, which forms the backbone of Utah’s $16 billion agriculture industry. "The counties have witnessed time after time where managers have lost their moorings and use the presence of the monument to minimize and take away grazing," Mark Ward, policy director of the Utah Association of Counties, told a House committee on Monday...more

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