Working with public lands offers benefits for both the ranger and the land itself. The Bureau of Land Management recognizes this and supports the Rangeland and Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Awards. The award is designed to recognize the work of individuals and organizations dedicated to improving the health and productivity of public rangelands.
For 2018, there were two honorees recognized during the 50th annual meeting of the Public Lands Council.
The first honoree is a couple, Larry and Pennie Hooper, who operate on the Red Mountain lease in New Mexico. They received the Rangeland Stewardship Award. The Hoopers ranch near Deming, N.M., and started out there in 1991. Their work in the area has included cleaning up ranchlands that had been dumping grounds for local residents, according to a report from the Deming Headlight, the local newspaper. A key challenge they overcame was the invasive weed African rue, which they eliminated.
The second honoree is Richard Ward of Malta, Idaho, who received the Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Award. Ward helped establish the Jim Sage Grazing Allotment Study Area where 19 permittees graze their livestock. Ward applied successful grazing management strategies within the area by recruiting new members to the study, recommending modifications to their grazing habits and erecting fencing within the study area.
The awards represent one way the BLM recognizes contributions of public lands ranchers. Other initiatives, such as outcome-based grazing projects, also allow the BLM to work with public lands ranchers to explore a variety of approaches to land management. Such projects provide managers and grazing permit holders greater flexibility in the management of permitted livestock while emphasizing ecological, economic and social outcomes in cooperative management of public lands.
A golden anniversary
The PLC is celebrating 50 years in 2018, and it lays claim to being the only organization dedicated “solely to representing the 22,000 Western ranchers who hold federal grazing permits.” The group has worked to serve as a voice for grazing permit holders from the West on Capitol Hill and around the country.
In noting the anniversary, Dave Eliason, the current president and a fourth-generation Utah public lands rancher, said: “Over the years we have maintained a critical presence for the industry on issues ranging from grazing rights and wildlife management, to repeal of policies like BLM Planning 2.0 and reform of the National Environmental Policy Act.”
Ethan Lane, PLC executive director, sees opportunity for the future, noting the group has a chance to make progress on issues the West has faced for decades: “Capitalizing on the current political climate is only possible because of our long history and depth of knowledge on these issues — not to mention our strong connections throughout the federal government.”
You can learn more about the group at publiclandscouncil.org.
Source: Public Lands Council