Grazing Retirement Opportunities

Valles Caldera Grazing Larry Lamsa CC Flickr

There is a new development in ranching and conservation in the Gila and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. WildEarth Guardians is partnering with grazing permittees who no longer want to operate on their allotments and desire financial compensation for their term grazing permits. This is a model that has been used across the west to alleviate management challenges faced by ranchers, including drought, disease and endangered species.

We are happy to say we’ve recently completed the first voluntary permit waiver and compensation on the Gila National Forest and have several more in the making. We hope you will consider this option if your circumstances are right.

 You have likely invested significantly in your operation and may continue to ranch for many years; but ranching is an increasingly challenging enterprise. If you are considering options for retirement or transition to a different operation, we’d like to offer the option to waive your permit for cash. Voluntary grazing permit retirement is not for everyone; but it is an appropriate solution for some people in some places. We want to work with those of you who are in that place.

Gila Wilderness pc dedhed1950 CC FlickrWHAT IS GRAZING PERMIT RETIREMENT? Grazing permit retirement is a voluntary, market-based solution to federal lands grazing challenges. Permittees determine if, and when, they want to relinquish their grazing permits in exchange for financial compensation and negotiate the value of their term grazing permit. 

WHAT IF I AM NOT READY YET? That’s okay. We understand that many of you will likely continue ranching for years to come, but in order to ensure that permit retirement is an option when you are ready, we need Congress to pass legislation that will close the allotment to livestock grazing for resource protection subsequent to the permit waiver. This will allow us to offer you the best value for your permit.

WHY DOES CONGRESS NEED TO BE INVOLVED? Congress is the only entity with final authority over allotment closure legislation and has already authorized such legislation on several million acres of federal public lands at the request of permittees that face significant challenges. For example, in 2011 Congress authorized grazing permit retirement in the California Desert Conservation Area and for all sheep grazing allotments in bighorn sheep range in the West (Public Law 112-74). In 2009, Congress authorized voluntary grazing permit retirement in the Middle Fork Gila pc Douglas LeMoine CC FlickrOwyhee canyonlands in Idaho (Public Law 111-11 § 1501-1508) and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon (Public Law 111-11 § 1401- 1406).

CURRENT LEGISLATION: Currently, there is pilot permit retirement legislation for New Mexico working its way through Congress. The Grazing Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 258) or GIA, would authorize the voluntary relinquishment of grazing permits or leases and provides that grazing permits or leases voluntarily relinquished shall be permanently retired from further grazing authorization.

WE NEED YOUR HELP: Please write, call and meet with your Senators to express your interest in seeing this program offered. The only way this program will succeed is with your input.

We are currently recruiting permittees on the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests that are interested in voluntary permit retirement as an option. Please contact us to receive more information or with any questions you may have.

Photo Credits top to bottom: Valles Caldera round-up: Larry Lamsa, Creative Commons License, Flickr. Gila Wilderness: dedhed1950, Creative Commons License, Flickr. Middle Fork, Gila Wilderness: Douglas LeMoine, Creative Commons License, Flickr.