Nationwide Grazing Lease Retirement Bill Introduced in Congress

 

January 31, 2020

At Western Watersheds Project, we are always looking for opportunities to reduce or eliminate the impacts of livestock grazing on public lands. One of the tools that we have always promoted is the voluntary retirement of grazing allotments. Buying out grazing allotments and ensuring a permanent end to grazing on those lands is one of the most secure and effective ways to restore our public lands and improve habitat for wildlife.

Over the years, WWP has worked closely with members of Congress and other conservation groups to develop legislation to expand the authority for permit retirement throughout the West.  We are very pleased to let you know that the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (“VGPRA”), H.R. 5737, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) yesterday afternoon. This new bill will authorize new grazing permit retirements, and will also protect those that have already been bought out but are now threatened with being re-opened to livestock grazing. Right now, grazing allotments previously bought out in the national forest lands south of Yellowstone and in the Escalante Canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are under threat of being reopened to livestock by the Trump Administration and its push to open every last acre of land to extraction and exploitation. This bill would close those lands to livestock in perpetuity.

Now that the bill has been introduced, the next step is to build a broad base of support in the House of Representatives in anticipation of hearings and an eventual vote in the Natural Resources Committee.  Please take a moment to contact your Representative and ask them to become a co-sponsor of the VGPRA or thank the original co-sponsors of the bill: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Rep. Denny Hecht (D-WA-10), Rep. Earl Blumenaeur (D-OR-3), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.DC-at large)

Passage of this common-sense legislation is long overdue, and exactly what we need to help restore public lands, build climate resilience, and reverse the extinction crisis. More information about the bill can be found online here or by contacting josh@westernwatersheds.org.

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