On Wednesday, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Assn. (USCA) submitted comments in support of a project initiated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) titled "Targeted Grazing of Annual Grasses in the Great Basin Ecoregions in Nevada."
USCA said the purpose of the project “is to manage invasive annual grasses by using a variety of livestock grazing practices in the Great Basin ecoregions of Nevada."
USCA Public Lands Committee co-chair Jack Alexander explained further: “With the spread of invasive annual grass species like cheatgrass, extreme wildfires continue to ravage western rangelands. Cheatgrass intensifies wildland fire frequency, duration and size, which presents challenges not only for public lands users but also the communities that sit on the edge of these lands.”
USCA said it supports the implementation of targeted grazing practices to create fuel reductions and fuel breaks where invasive annual grasses exist in densities that have the potential to affect ecological functions. “We also recognize that these projects must allow a greater degree of flexibility for ranchers to custom tailor a grazing program for site-specific treatments,” Alexander added.
USCA added that it looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of the Interior and BLM to better utilize the ecosystem benefits of grazing animals to create fuel reductions and lessen the environmental impacts of wildland fire.
Today, more than 22,000 ranchers graze cattle and sheep on federal lands. Grazing provides innumerable benefits to land management agencies, ecosystems and rural communities while producing high-quality food and fiber on land ill-suited to other agricultural purposes, according to a fact sheet published by the Public Lands Council on the value of grazing.
The National Interagency Fire Center estimates an average cost of $150 per acre to reduce fuel loads. Grazing provides this service at virtually no cost to the taxpayer, the group noted.