Livestock Grazing on Public Lands
Livestock grazing not only benefits ranchers and rural communities, but also provides important environmental and wildfire risk mitigation benefits that should be more fully recognized. For many ranchers, access to Forest Service allotments is economically and ecologically essential to their operation. Economically because base properties are often not sufficient to maintain an economically viable herd without access to the seasonal forage on the forest, and ecological because the ability to move the herd to the Forest Service allotment provides valuable rest to the base property. Base properties provide working landscapes that benefit wildlife habitat, provide healthy watersheds, and offer open space benefits that might otherwise be lost to development.
Livestock grazing permittees also often provide additional services such as facility maintenance, road maintenance (culvert clearing), and trash removal. In addition, grazing can be a management tool the United States Forest Service may use to improve range conditions or manage for fire.