Idaho Watersheds Project learned today from the Wyoming Office of State Lands that in all the cases of grazing lease applications made by IWP on March 1, 2000 which were accepted (4,500 acres located in Lincoln and Teton Counties), the ranchers in question who formerly held the leases matched IWP's high bid of $7.00 per AUM and thereby doubles their payments for the leases. In one of those cases the current leaseholder had to match an even higher bid of $9.15 per AUM made by a third party- another rancher. Under Wyoming statutes, ranchers currently holding grazing leases on school trust lands have an absolute preference to keep their leases by matching any higher bids.
On the one grazing lease application made by IWP which was denied (a 640 acre lease near Evanston, Wyoming in Uinta County). The Office of State Lands denied IWP's application because the lease had $287,000 of building improvements on the land which IWP had failed to identify and provide compensation for. IWP has learned that the current leaseholder, Urroz Brothers, of that lease do not pay an annual rent for the use of that Wyoming school trust land for use as building sites !
IWP now has 15 more days to determine if an appeal and legal action should be initiated to determine the constitutionality of the absolute rancher preference under Wyoming law for renewal of grazing leases on school trust lands.
With this action, IWP has shown that these Wyoming ranchers are willing to pay double what the Wyoming grazing fee formula requires and almost six times the federal grazing fee of $1.35 per AUM.