The federal regulations that are the subject of a lawsuit before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could have had broad effects on public lands grazing.

Some of the major revisions included in the rules:

* Ranchers would have been able to share ownership of corrals, water troughs and other structures they built on public lands. Without the regulations, such improvements are basically gifts to the federal government, according to the Public Lands Council, a group representing ranchers in the appeal.

* Water rights on federal land would also have been eligible for shared ownership.

* If the BLM ordered new grazing reductions on an allotment, the changes would have been phased in over five years rather than taking effect immediately.

* Ranchers would also have been given more time to correct violations of grazing restrictions.

* In deciding whether range health standards were being met, BLM would only have been able to rely on monitoring data instead of "all available data," such as that collected by environmental groups.

Proponents believe this would allow the agency to make violation decisions based on the most reliable information.

Critics believe the BLM wouldn't have the resources to conduct enough monitoring, resulting in less enforcement.

* The agency also wanted to revoke earlier regulations that required public consultation about routine management decisions, such as the renewal of individual grazing permits or adjustments to allotment boundaries.

* To weigh in on such decisions, people would have to submit requests for information and provide written comments about each allotment in question.

These limits were intended to improve the efficiency of day-to-day management without excluding the public from major agency decisions, according to BLM.

-- Mateusz Perkowski

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