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Highlights

GAO discussed how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered public rangelands. GAO found that: (1) although Congress mandated that BLM manage rangelands for the benefit of all and to ensure their future maintenance, much rangeland remained in unsatisfactory condition; (2) almost 60 percent of the grazing allotments were in only poor or fair condition and the riparian areas were worse; (3) the primary cause of rangeland and riparian degradation is poorly managed livestock grazing, since livestock tend to congregate in riparian areas, eat most of the vegetation, and trample streambanks; (4) BLM has done little to reduce authorized grazing levels in overgrazed areas and has not established appropriate grazing levels; (5) BLM staff believe that neither BLM management nor ranchers would support efforts to improve riparian areas; and (6) BLM reduced staffing levels for those specialist positions needed to achieve range management goals. GAO believes that BLM needs to: (1) establish finite goals for riparian-area restoration; and (2) annually measure the progress made to achieve those goals.

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