Grazing cutbacks not seen on public land

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So far no cutbacks have been made regarding grazing on public lands in Moffat County, but officials say they will continue to monitor the situation and discuss the conditions with local permit holders.

Right now, the Yampa River drainage is at 5 percent of normal and Colorado is experiencing its worst drought in history.

Little Snake Field Office Director John Husband said the Bureau of Land Management is monitoring the situation and has not seen a need for cutbacks yet on its 1.5 million acres of available grazing land in the county.

"At this time we're keeping an eye on the conditions," Husband said. "Right now we're OK. We haven't had to talk to people about cutbacks yet."

But that will likely change by late summer and fall, he said, at which time each permit holder will be consulted on a case-by-case basis.

He said he doesn't foresee any problems, because permit holders don't want to overgraze land, which would ruin it for future years.

"I would bet it would be a mutual agreement," he said. "Permitees don't want to overgraze an area. You'll see voluntary pulling off of the range."

Wayne Prokpetz, a manager at Dinosaur National Monument, had the same view as Husband on how the 80,000 acres of grazing land will be dealt with at the park.

"We're OK at this time," Prokpetz said. "But we will continue monitoring the situation."

If the situation begins to look sparse it will be dealt with by grazing reductions, he said.

"We're as concerned as everyone else," he said. "If there is a problem with the amount of forage it will certainly be considered."

The Secretary of Agriculture already took action to free up Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for grazing.

Pat Moralez, executive director for the Moffat County Farm Service Agency, said the 30,000 acres of CRP land in Moffat County has not been used for grazing in more than 10 years, but said the state is in a dire situation.

"A lot of grazing pasture is gone already because of the dry conditions and wind," she said. "Some (ranchers) have no where else to go. This will tie them over until the next pasture is available."

Anyone one with a CRP contract who wants to graze can apply to do so, Moralez said.

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