The Bureau of Land Management has extended the period for commenting on the 500 page environmental assessment analyzing effects of renewing four livestock grazing permits in Owyhee County.
The agency published the 500-page assessment Sept. 7, and invited interested parties to submit comments by October 8th, an obviously hard task for anyone with others things to do. Comments will now be accepted through October 23.
“We recognize the importance of this environmental assessment to livestock grazing permittees and other stakeholders.” said BLM Owyhee Field Manager Loretta Chandler. “A 15-day extension will provide
additional time for interested parties to comment while allowing the BLM to meet court-ordered deadlines for the Owyhee grazing allotments.”
The BLM must complete processing of the four permit renewals analyzed in this assessment and 71 others by December 2013 under a settlement agreement approved in 2008 by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill. That's a tall order for any agency.
Large portions of the four allotments analyzed in the current assessment do not meet rangeland health standards under current management. So the assessment goes through five alternatives to get
them back to health, ranging from no action to no grazing. Among those alternatives is a rancher proposal that would actually increase grazing on two of the allotments. But two alternatives are likely the real choices.
One would keep grazing numbers where they are now. Another would keep cattle out of sage grouse habitat during the critical seasons — a 50 percent cut in available forage. Under either, if ranchers are not
able to meet rangeland-health standards two years in a row out of five, the permit is revoked and more restrictive measures are required.