Public Lands Livestock Grazing
Americans have a deep love for our “wild west” beginnings, with starry-eyed visions of dusty cowboys aback horses, crooning to cattle scattered across wild open prairies. Yet, behind this idealized vision is an ugly history of public lands abuse, runaway subsidies, and a broken system that is impacting the health and function of our western public lands.
Livestock grazing occurs on more than 250,000,000 acres of public land—that’s 57% of the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Improperly managed public-lands grazing is one of the most destructive uses of our precious wild public lands.
Broads does not want to eliminate all grazing, but instead, advocates for management that ensures grazing practices are sustainable, allowing lands to remain ecologically diverse with healthy, functioning ecosystems. There are many arid western lands where grazing is impractical and bad for the natural and cultural resources.
Policies and programs must be developed that allow agencies to “retire” grazing and to help ranchers through these transitions. This is especially important as climate change grips western lands in extreme drought and with erratic weather. Learn more about legislation that would enable this: HR3410 – Rural Economic Vitalization Act.
Broads have deep roots in the arid lands of southern Utah. Our founders were activists for grazing reform in the Grand Staircase-Escalante region (now a national monument), even before Broads came into being as an organization. Poor land health and citizen outcry inspired our earliest advocacy efforts and has since been a sustained focus for the organization.
Much of our approach is based upon the Tushar Allotments Collaboration, of which Broads was a participant. The collaboration grew out of an appeal on a decision made by the Forest Service to reauthorize grazing on eight allotments within the Tushar Mountains in western Utah. The Forest Service, grazing permittees, and others, including Broads and Grand Canyon Trust (GCT), developed grazing management actions to improve conditions on the ground.
Those ideas, applied in Utah and elsewhere on western lands, were also part of the recommendations Broads, GCT, and The Wilderness Society made for a grazing plan option for Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
How Broads Help
Broads and Broadbands across the country work with agencies to gather data and monitor the effects of livestock grazing on public lands. We partner with agencies on specific projects, contribute to sensible grazing plans, and hold agencies to task on policies and enforcement activities.
Check out our recommended reading list (below) to dig deeper into the topic and read on to learn more about the impacts of grazing.
To get involved, contact your local Broadband or work with the national office to start your own monitoring project. Watch our website for action alerts and events that provide opportunities for education, advocacy, stewardship, and (of course) fun.