Thursday, May 25, 2017

Monument designations don't affect livestock grazing (A misguided LTE)

 An excerpt from the letter-to-editor:

It’s hard to beat Ron Gibson's op-ed for being more irrelevant to the issue of whether Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments deserve to continue as part of our nation’s treasure of monuments (“Farm Bureau applauds monument review,” May 18-24, 2017 Moab Sun News). As president of the Utah Farm Bureau, Mr. Gibson understandably focuses on livestock grazing, but monument status doesn’t affect that. Both monument proclamations indicate that the BLM (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase) and Forest Service (Bears Ears) will continue to manage livestock grazing as one of a number of multiple uses. You could hardly graze the desert Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument more: 96.3 percent is active cattle allotments. That percentage is close to the same in Bears Ears, with 100 percent of the Manti-La Sal National Forest portion in active cattle allotments, and likely near that on the BLM portion.

The writer focuses on "active cattle allotments". I don't know if this is done out of ignorance, or with an intent to deceive. In either case it totally misses the point. Let's use Leland Pollock, a county commissioner and a rancher as an example. When Zinke visited the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Pollock told him that prior to the monument being designated he ran 260 head on his allotment, but since the designation he had been cut back to 64 head. The difference had been placed in "suspension" and still appeared in BLM records, but he can't use them. His allotment is still "active" but is no longer an economically viable unit. An that, says Pollock, is "how the federal government is getting rid of the rancher on the monument."

Whether an allotment is "active" or not is irrelevant. It's the number of livestock that is allowed to run on that allotment that is the determining factor.

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