Navigating Challenges and Advocating for Ranchers: Public Lands Council

February 7, 2024 - 

In the vast expanse of the western United States, where rugged landscapes and sprawling federal lands define the terrain, the livelihoods of numerous livestock producers are intricately tied to the management of these public lands. One organization at the forefront of advocating for these ranchers and their interests is the Public Lands Council (PLC).

Mark Roeber serves as president of PLC. He is the fourth generation of his family to ranch in Paonio, Colorado. Reflecting on the current state of affairs in 2024, Roeber remains cautiously optimistic about the weather and state of livestock business.  

WATCH the entire interview with Mark Roeber and Western Ag Network's Lane Nordlund. 

"We're probably a little bit on the dry side. We don't know where we're going yet, but there's still a lot of time to make up for it," he remarks.

Amidst the uncertainties, one thing remains constant—the commitment to addressing critical issues affecting cattle and sheep ranchers.

Among the pressing concerns for ranchers is the forthcoming Bureau of Land Management Landscape Health and Conservation Rule (also known as the BLM Conservation Rule). The rule, opposed by family ranchers who believe the BLM is misusing the term conservation to sway public opinion and to remove grazing from federal lands.

As previously reported, groups like the Montana Stockgrowers Association believe that conservation leasing should not be elevated to a single use (like grazing or outdoor recreation). It should be more of an outcome of the uses that are currently happening on the ground.

The Public Lands Council has led the charge in being a voice for cattle and sheep producers who have a stake in landscape health management.

 "We continue to monitor it and are counting on Congress to kind of help with the conservation rule. We are expecting them to come out with more in the next month," Roeber explains.

For many years, PLC has worked to ensure funding and education surrounding catastrophic wildfires. Roeber sees progress in highlighting the role of cattle in mitigating such disasters.

"We're making some headway on the wildfire front... I think will gain some ground there," he notes.

Yet, challenges persist, particularly regarding policies like the Endangered Species Act. Roeber underscores the importance of common-sense policies that protect property rights. "It's protection of private property rights in reality," he asserts. "If you can't protect your private property being livestock, it is a takings and it just seems like the wheel is tilted."

Looking ahead, PLC remains steadfast in its mission to empower ranchers and ensure their voices are heard. Roeber extends an invitation to fellow producers to engage in discussions and share their perspectives. "We'll be heading to Grand Junction in Colorado for our annual in September. Our Legislative Conference will be in Washington D.C., April 16th through the 19th. So I invite everybody to come out and get your input in so we encourage it," he states.

Source: Western Ag Network