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Know the West

Back to grazing reform ... maybe

  With little fanfare, the Bureau of Land Management released "final" livestock grazing regulations Feb. 17. The new regulations look much like those forwarded in a draft last spring, with the glaring exception of grazing fees, which Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt dropped from his Rangeland Reform package shortly before Christmas (HCN, 1/23/95). Environmentalists say the new regulations continue to rely too heavily on local advisory boards and fail to address such issues as the suitability of lands for grazing and the need for national standards for land restoration and management. Nonetheless, they worry that some Western members of Congress will eviscerate what's left of the regulations before the August deadline for implementation. Wyoming Rep. Craig Thomas, R, has indicated that he may step up to the plate. "What I don't see in this plan is a tone of partnership," he said in a news release. "... Babbitt still has all the reins, still has control of the advisory groups that ultimately pull the strings." Environmentalists may not have the firepower to fight off legislative attacks. Says Fran Hunt of the Wilderness Society, "It's almost impossible to focus on grazing reform when a guy like (Utah Rep.) Jim Hansen is trying to dismantle national parks and give BLM lands back to the states."


*Paul Larmer