Ranchers Feel Betrayed by New BLM Public Lands Rule

March 31, 2023

The Department of the Interior has published a proposal to guide the balanced management of America’s public lands for the benefit of current and future generations. The proposed Public Lands Rule provides tools for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to improve the resilience of public lands in the face of a changing climate; conserve important wildlife habitat and intact landscapes; plan for development; and better recognize unique cultural and natural resources on public lands.

However, not everyone agrees.

Livestock organizations like the NCBA and Public Lands Council have serious concern that the proposed rule would completely upend BLM's multiple-use mandate and jeopardizes the agency's ability to be a good partner to the ranchers who manage millions of acres across the West.

"We're very disappointed in how the plan came out" said Mark Roeber, PLC president from Paonio, CO. "It seems like the process was done backwards. They rolled the plan out and now they're engaging stakeholders. My past experience as a county commissioner, when you want to roll something out, you want stakeholder involvement. You usually do that the other way around and get input first. It appears that this was done totally in-house and they're trying to just rush it through and that that's disappointing to the livestock industry. We have always tried to be good partners with the BLM and we feel a little bit betrayed."

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), commented on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Public Lands Rule.

 “In the 1980s extremists used tree spikes to try and stop responsible management of public lands. In 2023 they use decrees from Washington. Today’s announcement undermines the law’s multiple-use requirement for Bureau of Land Management lands. Wyoming families depend on access to public lands for energy and critical mineral development, grazing, forest management, and recreation. The Biden Administration’s extreme unilateral action will kill multiple use. This is a clear violation of the law. I will do everything in my power to stop this proposal.”

The proposed rule does include a few things that BLM says it will address that is beneficial to the public lands ranchers.

"There are a few points in it that we're kind of glad to see." said Roeber. "They do address some land use or land health use guidelines and standards to apply them to other things other than livestock, which we have pushed for. That is one of the things in this rule that they're  talking about doing. We pushed for that for a long time because we can't be the brunt of all the problems. Some things are caused by people and recreation. Some things are caused by wildlife, specifically wild horses and those type of things."

The publication of the proposed Public Lands Rule in the Federal Register in the coming days initiates a 75-day public comment period. In addition, the BLM will host five information forums to discuss the details of the rule.

Source: Western Ag Network, BLM, NCBA, PLC and U.S. Senator John Barrasso R-WY

Photo Credit: Utah Cattlemen's Association