The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is disheartened to learn of the upcoming announcement of a presidential declaration defining 21,000 acres along the Arkansas River, known as Browns Canyon as a national monument.
“We worked in good-faith with former Senator Udall and others, to find a way to prevent a presidential declaration,” says Tim Canterbury, chair of the Public Lands Council (PLC). “Now, all we can do is ask for a seat at the table, and hope that the voices of ranchers will be heard and respected in the designations implementation process.”
After it became clear that a presidential declaration was being pursued, CCA reached out to Senator Bennet and Governor Hickenlooper, both of whom agreed to work on ensuring that grazing would continue without changes or restrictions. CCA understands that the following points are intended to be part of the declaration, and will be addressed locally through “maximizing” the state’s engagement in the designation management agreement. CCA and PLC will work to ensure that following the points are included and clarified:
Motorized access must continue to be allowed for permit administration, range improvements, and water maintenance.
Explicit language must be written into the designation that allows sheep and cattle producers to trail their livestock to and from federal grazing allotments through portions of the designated area.
Weeds and weed control must also be addressed in the rules of implementation, particularly in headwaters areas.
Language must be included in the designation implementation to ensure that changes in the numbers of authorized livestock are based on facts, and not the whim of individual land managers.
Language that would explicitly ensure permits will be transferable to new permittee/owners in the exact same manner as was the case prior to the designation of the national monument is also required.
Water rights must be expressly recognized in wilderness acts that further codify states’ water laws.
These changes must be applied throughout the BLM and Forest Service so that administration at all levels carry out, consistently and timely, the intent of the law without personal deference that subsequently limits or harms livestock grazing through administrative bias.
“We stand by the fact that a presidential declaration is not in the best interest of the agricultural community; and we sincerely hope that the President and his administration have heard our concerns and will ensure that the rule-making process addresses the concerns of landowners and ranchers, allowing ranches that have been in operation for generations to continue,” states Canterbury. He emphasizes that the CCA and PLC will keep pushing for legislation that will clarify grazing permit rights for this and any future designation. “We must avoid the confusing language that exists in many current designations and change the administrative approach, which in the past has resulted in severely limiting sustainable resource management.”