The Bureau of Land Management announced it had come to year-long deal with ranchers on the Argenta allotment on Mount Lewis in the Battle Mountain District of Nevada to allow grazing back in May. But the bureau changed its mind.
At the end of July, the bureau told ranchers using the land that “drought triggers” had been met and that they had seven days to remove cattle from the land.
“We must remove the cattle from our summer grazing country on the mountain, where there is ample feed and adequate water, to the flat, where there is very little of either,” rancher Pete Tomera told the Elko Daily Free Press.
Intermountain Range Consultants’ Bob Schweigert said that ranchers had to sign grazing agreements with the bureau in May. Now, he says, the bureau is violating the terms of those agreements.
The bureau agreed to review key monitoring location in coordination with ranchers in early June, but the scheduled joint monitoring was canceled. Days later, a rancher noticed bureau employees conducting monitoring without ranchers instead. Then another monitoring was scheduled on short notice, while permittees were away from the area. The testing was done again, without the ranchers.
John Carpenter, chairman of the Committee for Sustainable Grazing, said temporary electric fences should be put around the “postage stamp” riparian areas as provided by the bureau’s own Drought Management Environmental Analysis. He says that the riparian areas are keeping the ranchers from using their private land and water rights. The bureau appears to be unwilling to follow the recommendations, he said.
Delays in getting cattle on the range and the fencing ranchers were required to do by the bureau has cost the ranchers half a million dollars, ranchers say.
Some ranchers have chosen to defy the latest order to remove their cattle, saying that the bureau breached the agreements made with ranchers.
A demonstration in which riders are to carry a petition to Washington, D.C., to seek the local bureau manager’s firing is scheduled in September.
An administrative law judge in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals is seeing the case. However, on federal land, the bureau basically writes the law, polices the law and adjudicates the law.