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Grazing shortage

Ranchers could find little public land available for fall, winter

Josh Nichols

The public land that Moffat County ranchers used for grazing last fall and winter might not be available this coming season, according to officials with the Bureau of Land Management.

“The land they used relies on spring rains,” said Andrea Minor, range management specialist for the BLM. “What they’re eating

this year should have grown last spring but we didn’t have any rain. It hasn’t reproduced as fast as we wanted.”

Which is why about 75 letters are being sent out to all ranchers in the county informing them that cutbacks might be on the way.

Two letters will be sent out.

One will just inform all ranchers that conditions are bad and ask them to cooperate the best they can, Minor said.

The other letter will be sent out specifically to fall and winter permit holders.

“One letter will be specifically targeted at fall and winter users because they are going to be the ones that are hardest hit,” Minor said.

David Blackstun, supervising natural resource specialist with the BLM, said each rancher would be dealt with individually.

“We’re preparing a letter that will go to all permittees in the county,” he told Moffat County commissioners earlier this week. “The purpose is to alert them that times are tough. We’ll be looking at it on a case-by-case basis, but some might have to go home early. That letter will be a hard one to write.”

Every permit holder will be dealt with individually because conditions are different throughout the county, Blackstun said.

“Some areas are doing fine,” he said. “But the fact is in many parts nothing grew this year.”

People will be contacted after they receive the letters, Minor said.

“This is just a heads up that we are going to be doing something,” she said. “We’ll be making appointments to go out and look at the land with each permit holder.”

As far as this summer goes, Minor said many ranchers have been voluntarily cooperative.

“Many people are taking action on their own and have already sold their animals,” she said.

“People don’t realize the stress and struggle this puts on ranchers who have to move those animals off the land and find somewhere else to put them,” said Moffat County Commissioners Marianna Raftopoulos.


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