Monday, February 8, 2016

Grazing fees are not the issue. Bureaucracy and litigation are

This reports sheds light on one of the major issues involved in the Oregon standoff. It's important to understand what's exactly behind the local frustrations. As a matter of fact, the opponents often make a point that the grazing fees charged by the federal agencies are ridiculously low.

In the case of cattle, the bulk of frustrations is about what the locals perceive as overregulation of land use and constant war in courts against environmental groups. The last one may be more significant than it appears because locals may not have enough time, resources and organization for court battles while the other side is likely to be represented by dedicated professionals with well funded and highly motivated groups close to seats of power. I am sure it doesn't sound like much to many people. But this is a recurrent theme in reports. In some respects, ours is a litigation society and court battles are our version of ancient wars.
By Dylan J. Darling (The Bulletin) {

Date = Jan 10, 2016
Source = Why ranchers feel frustration with federal government

Raising cattle in the vast county requires lots of land, so anyone ranching in Harney County likely has to work with the federal government, particularly the Bureau of Land Management. The agency oversees more than 3.9 million acres, or more than 60.5 percent of the county, according to the BLM.

“Much of BLM-administered rangeland is grazed by livestock under a system of permits and leases in which ranchers pay grazing fees for the use of public land,” according to the agency.

In 2014, the district had 164 grazing permits and nine grazing leases, according to the BLM. Combined, the permits and leases covered more than 247,000 animal unit months, or AUMs as officials and ranchers call them. One unit is enough forage to sustain one cow and a calf for one month. The BLM charges $1.35 per AUM.

It is not the cost of the arrangement that is frustrating ranchers, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, said Thursday. Rather, it is the requirements that come with it. Walden’s congressional district includes Harney County.

Each permit is individually crafted and may come with stipulations, such as when cattle may go on and off the land, how low the animals may chew down the grass and how long ranchers have to wait before returning cattle to land burned by wildfire.

Add in legal challenges by conservation and environmental groups, and Walden said some of the hardest work for ranchers may be lining up federal permits and leases.

“It’s that constant, grinding battle that just wears people down,” he said.

Between sips of her coffee, Tiller also said court conflicts with conservation and environmental groups have long been a cause for rancher frustration and fatigue.

“We are trying to use our lands without destroying them,” she said. }