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Our Views Columns

Date: 9/27/2014

Title: Ranchers Recognized on National Public Lands Day

In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association want to recognize the 22,000 ranchers that hold grazing permits, managing more than 250 million federally-controlled acres and providing critical economic return on the vast public lands that cover much of the West.

Livestock grazing represents the earliest use of western lands, leading to our nation's expansion westward. Today, grazing continues to represent a primary multiple use that is essential to the livestock industry, wildlife habitat, open space and the rural economies of many western communities. In the west, where approximately half the land is under federal control, countless rural communities rely on public lands grazing for their tax base, commerce and jobs.

 Over the past 40 years, livestock grazing has become recognized as an integral tool for rangeland management on both public and private lands. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service and leading range scientists, areas with flourishing and diverse plant and wildlife populations are often found in their present state because of grazing. Ranchers are responsible for maintaining range improvements such as stockwater systems for their livestock, creating millions of acres of habitat for wildlife where none would have otherwise existed.

 The U.S. Forest Service reports that 6,000 acres of open space are lost in the United States each day. Continued public lands livestock grazing allows the associated private lands to stay in ranching and provide open space, rather than being converted to urban development and even non-use, which leads to diminished range health and reduced wildlife habitat while adding to the threat of catastrophic wildfire. As a fundamental part of our Western heritage, ranchers do their part to ensure the vitality of the public lands for future generations.