Rep. Scott McInnis Opposes NPLGC Voluntary Federal Grazing Permit Buyout Proposal

Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO) has written to federal public lands grazing permittees and lessees in his congressional district in opposition to the NPLGC voluntary federal grazing permit buyout proposal. The following is Rep. McInnis' letter (left column) and commentary by NPLGC (right column).


Rep. Scott McInnis' Letter   National Public Lands Grazing Campaign Commentary
May 3, 2002

Dear Friend,

Below is a letter that I have sent to all grazing permittees located in Colorado's Third Congressional District. If you are current grazing permittee or if you are interested in public lands issues, please pay special attention to the letter below.

Maintaining multiple use of our public lands remains a top priority for me. Rest assured, I will stay on top of this issue as it develops.

Sincerely,

Scott McInnis
Member of Congress
   
Dear Grazing Permittee:    
In the coming days and weeks, an organization will be sending you a letter informing you of a legislative proposal they are advocating that would authorize the federal government to pay a grazing permittee upwards of $175/AUM in exchange for the permittee surrendering all permits to graze on public lands.   Indeed, the NPLGC proposal would pay grazing permittees and lessees exactly $175/AUM (animal unit month) in exchange for selling their interest in any or all of their federal grazing permits or leases.

Permittees/lessees could choose to retire less than an entire allotment if the public lands retired could be reasonably secured from trespass grazing.
It is important you know the source and background of this proposal in order to better judge the offer and the motivations behind it. The organization touting this proposal operates with the underlying goal of forcing grazing off of the public lands, according to statements made in various newspapers like the Grand Junction Sentinel and their website.

This organization has one goal: to remove grazing from public lands.
  Most of the organizations on the NPLGC steering committee favor an end to commercial livestock grazing. However, the only "force" employed is the force of law. Congress has enacted a slate of environmental laws that empower citizens to protect public lands, including the Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedures Act, Clean Water Act.

Congress has already provided these "sticks" to curb abusive livestock grazing on public lands. Conservation organizations now seek a "carrot" to soften the impact on public lands livestock operators.
Please keep in mind that one of the groups on the steering committee for this so-called conservationist proposal operates under the mission statement, "to protect and restore Western watersheds by educational outreach, public policy initiatives, litigation, and by ending incompatible uses of public lands," according to its website.   The group alluded to is the Western Watersheds Project (www.westernwatersheds.org).
This group has established itself as representing the "interested public" on hundreds of grazing allotments on Bureau of Land Management lands in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Nevada amounting to over 22,000,000 acres, and according to its website, intends to "protest and appeal all decisions on these allotments which do not adequately take into account recreational, hunting, fishing, wildlife, watershed, and water quality values."   Imagine, a public interest organization obtaining the legal status to be an "interested public" in Bureau of Land Management grazing decisions that affect other "multiple uses" of the public lands! (Obviously, public interest organizations have the same right as every other entity or citizen of the United States to comment on public lands management decisions, and even protest and appeal them in court).
According to the Bureau of Land Management in Craig, Colorado, this group is responsible for appealing 176 grazing permits in Utah this year alone, and is currently objecting to grazing permits for more than 370,000 acres of BLM administered lands on more than 30 allotments in Moffat and Routt Counties in northwestern Colorado in hopes of driving ranchers off the range.   The permits and public lands mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. These grazing permits were issued contrary to the requirements of federal law. WWP seeks to have government agencies obey the laws Congress enacts and the rules it promulgates.
When you receive the letter informing you of this buyout proposition, also be sure to consider the following things. First, this so-called legislative proposal does not currently, to my knowledge, have a Congressional sponsor. Second, if a Member of Congress does introduce a bill, it will be met with vigorous opposition by many, including me.  

NPLGC is in discussions with several members of Congress, from both the West and the East, and from both political parties who are interested in a federal grazing permit buyout program.

The NPLGC proposal is voluntary. No permittee or lessee would be forced to end their public lands grazing, but each would have the option to sell their grazing interest in exchange for two to seven times the fair market value of their grazing permit or lease.

I want you to know that I am aware of the ramifications of this organization's activity and I oppose this proposal which, in my opinion, has as its ultimate goal ending grazing on public lands. If you would like more information, or more specifics on this organization, please go to my website at www.house.gov/mcinnis and look under "Public Lands." I am committed to seeking the input of the people of Colorado and I appreciate your role in that process.

Sincerely,

Scott McInnis
Member of Congress
  Rep. McGinnis conflates the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign and Western Watersheds Project in his letter. WWP is a member of the NPLGC Steering Committee and provides some staff assistance.

As of May 6, 2002, the only content on Rep. McInnis' web page regarding the NPLGC is two PDF files of the two-page letter NPLGC sent to 27,000 federal grazing permittees describing the buyout proposal (one file for each page).

For more information, go to the source: www.publiclandsranching.org.