Rangeland Management:

Interior's Monitoring Has Fallen Short of Agency Requirements

RCED-92-51: Published: Feb 24, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) performance in: (1) monitoring the impact of grazing on range conditions; and (2) taking action to change grazing conditions when needed.

GAO found that: (1) BLM has only collected monitoring data for half of the 14,000 allotments that it should have completed within the last 5 years; (2) although BLM focused its limited monitoring attention on high priority allotments, it did not complete required monitoring within the required 5-year time frame for more than 300 allotments; (3) for 14 percent of the allotments BLM collected long-term trend data, but not the more specific short-term data needed to identify specific corrective actions; (4) BLM has not used its monitoring data to change grazing levels or practices; (5) BLM range managers attribute their inability to perform required monitoring and utilize data to staff shortages and the need to perform higher priority range management tasks; and (6) BLM grazing management decisions have lacked adequate documentation to support them.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Administration originally announced on August 9, 1993, that it would impose higher fees and tougher environmental restrictions on ranchers who graze their cattle and sheep on public rangeland. However, the final federal range policy completed in February 1995 deleted grazing fee increases, leaving any grazing fee charges to be determined by Congress.

    Matter: A better balance between the scope of the federal grazing program and the resources available to manage it is needed if BLM is to meet all of its rangeland management responsibilities. To achieve this objective, Congress may wish to consider: (1) reducing the scope of the existing grazing program, thereby reducing BLM range management responsibilities; or (2) funding an increase in BLM range management resources. One option for offsetting the additional annual appropriations that would be necessary to increase BLM range management resources is to increase federal grazing fees.

 

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