Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:00 AM
Designation of land would restrict cattle grazing in the West
By TIM HEARDEN
A cattle organization that has supported some Obama administration initiatives has thrown its weight behind efforts to defeat proposed national monuments that would further restrict cattle grazing.
The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America sent a letter regarding the monuments to U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey.
In a recent meeting in Montana attended by an R-CALF representative, Abbey acknowledged writing a memo outlining more than a dozen potential monument areas of the West, said Bill Bullard, R-CALF's chief executive officer.
"It sounds like they may move forward, in which case they would do a public comment period on the proposal," Bullard said. "But we think it runs directly counter to what the administration is attempting to do in revitalizing rural America. It would be counterproductive to attempt to revitalize rural America while taking productive land out of agriculture."
R-CALF's letter comes amid mounting political pressure against new monuments since the memo was obtained by Western lawmakers early this year.
The memo identifies several new monuments for California, including the potential for expanding the decade-old Cascade-Siskiyou National Wildlife Monument to include Klamath River tributaries. In addition, the document names parts of the Owyhee Desert region in Oregon and Nevada and the San Juan Islands in Washington as possible monuments.
Meanwhile, landowners in southern Oregon are mobilizing against the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument, which would set aside nearly 1 million acres.
BLM spokeswoman Melodie Lloyd said the push for any new monuments would come from local groups and citizens, not from Washington, D.C.
"We have a number of resource management plans under way and being updated," she said. "Through that planning process, the public is given numerous opportunities to participate and comment on how they want to see their public lands managed for the next 20 years or so. That's where this all starts is the communities see a need and they want to see something happen."
R-CALF's stand against more monument designations is a contrast to some of its other positions, most notably siding with the administration's proposed new regulations of meat marketing.
Bullard said R-CALF has yet to receive a response to its letter from BLM.
R-CALF USA: http://www.r-calfusa.com/Default.htm