A little over a week ago, I attended conference run by the Utah Cattleman’s Association in Kanab, UT. One of the presenters at the event was a rancher named Hal Hamblin. Hal’s family has grazed cattle in what is now the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument for generations, and he shared some thoughts on what ranchers who graze on or near National Monuments need to prepared for.

I wanted to pass some of his insights on to those who are following our work at Rangeland Strategies.

He started of by acknowledging that those who manage the monument would claim that not a single AUM has been cut from the allotments on the monument. He then acknowledged that not a single rancher who grazes on the monument would agree with that assessment. He also said that after President Trump announced the new boundaries for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, that many ranchers who found themselves outside the monument were jumping for joy, but so far nothing has changed.

Here is a list of challenges that ranchers face when trying to graze on lands within national monuments. Not surprisingly these challenges have led to dramatic reductions in grazing:

  1. You can’t use materials on the monument – this means you can’t cut cedar posts to repair fences from land nearby. You must transport all materials from range improvements to your allotment, which leads to …
  2. You can’t use mechanized equipment or motorized vehicles to fix water lines or fences. Even if you could…
  3. Infrastructure and roads are not maintained. The gravel pits inside the monument were no longer available, and the Monument has never had workforce out maintaining roads.
  4. Land managers will use rules and regulations to try to squeeze out private landowners to acquire inholdings left in the monument.
  5. You will likely be required to fence of riparian areas.
  6. You will have to fight for your water rights.
  7. You will have to fight to make any range improvements or to build facilities like bigger holding pens.

It was mentioned that the BLM is currently working on new Environmental Impact Studies for the monument in lieu of the new boundaries being declared. This is also occurring with the former Bears Ears National Monument. Mr. Hamblin implored the ranchers in attendance to make sure they get someone to fight for them during the EIS development process.

The consultants at Rangeland Strategies are ready to help if you have grazing permits that now fall in national monument boundaries. If you or any ranchers you know graze in monuments, send them our way for a free consultation. With the right input during the EIS development process, many ranchers could prevent expensive and time-consuming conflict with land management agencies. The process of developing Environmental Impact Studies for public land use is designed to favor the interests of environmental groups who can babysit the process every step of the way. This process is not easy for ranchers, who must spend time tending to their livelihood on the range to attend agency meetings and draft public comments. However, if you don’t engage in this process, you can be assured that those who don’t want you grazing these lands will be there every step of the way fighting against you. We’re here to help fight for you.