BATTLE MOUNTAIN, Nevada — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has reached an agreement in a year-old grazing dispute with northern Nevada ranchers that allows them to return some cattle to federal rangeland.
BLM officials say the new settlement agreement is in effect, now that an administrative law judge has dismissed all pending appeals challenging the contentious closure last year of an allotment near Battle Mountain, about 200 miles northeast of Reno.
The deal allows grazing to resume under specific conditions to prevent overgrazing on all public lands within the allotment, BLM District Manager Doug Furtado said.
"The goal from the beginning was to replace the temporary closure due to drought with a drought management plan that allows grazing while protecting the resources on the range," he said in a statement Wednesday. He said the agreement is result of more than three months of collaborative discussions between the BLM, the permit holders, the Idaho-based conservation group Western Watersheds Project, the National Riparian Services Team, former state Assemblyman John Carpenter, the Nevada Lands Action Association and the Public Lands Council.
Nine of 20 areas on the Argenta allotment were closed after drought conditions triggered mandatory grazing restrictions last summer. Drought triggers will continue to play a regulatory role under the agreement calling for livestock to be moved again if necessary.
Lynn Tomera, one of the ranchers involved, said in a letter to the Elko Daily Free Press they continue to have concerns about their long-term access to the range.
"We signed knowing that it will be extremely difficult to comply with this very restrictive 'agreement,'" she wrote.
Furtado said key elements of the agreement include:
— a three year trial period focused on adaptive management to respond to site specific conditions;
— development of a stockmanship plan focused on the use of riding and supplement use to meet riparian and upland use levels;
— increased attention to monitoring before, during and after seasons of use;
— a commitment by BLM to complete the permit renewal process within three years based on information gained from the adaptive management trial period.
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com