GR.–U. S federal land management agencies knowingly allow damage to public land so that ranchers and loggers can make profits harvesting forage and timber. Excesses that violate agency rules are not penalized. This needs to stop. Perhaps criminal charges should be brought against the heads of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior.
“The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week detailing the extent to which the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have failed to follow agency regulations in documenting and penalizing unauthorized or trespass livestock grazing on federal public lands. The report, entitled Unauthorized Grazing: Actions Needed to Improve Tracking and Deterrence Efforts, was requested by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. The request came in response to several high profile cases of trespass grazing and a recognition of the devastating ecological impacts it can have on wildlife habitat.
“The report came to several important conclusions. Trespass grazing is pervasive and causes widespread degradation of public lands, agencies do not document it adequately, and the Forest Service trespass fees are too low to be a deterrent.
“The report also highlights the extent to which public lands livestock grazing is heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. In 2016, BLM and the Forest Service charged ranchers $2.11 per animal unit month for horses and cattle, and $0.42 for sheep and goats. But, average private grazing land lease rates in western states ranged from $9 to $39.
“In a separate press release, Grijalva stated, “We know we’re leasing public land at well below market value. What we don’t know nearly enough about is the extent or impact of unauthorized grazing on public lands. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management need to bring grazing fees in line with the modern economy and take illegal use of public lands more seriously going forward.” More: Agencies Fail to Identify, Track, Penalize, or Deter Unauthorized Livestock Grazing on Public Lands According to a New Report from the Government Accountability Office | The Wildlife News