WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) recently introduced legislation to improve grazing rights for U.S. Forest Service national grasslands permit holders. Under current Federal Land Policy and Management Act rules, ranchers with permits on national grasslands do not have the same rights as those who have grazing permits on Bureau of Land Management and national forest land. This legislation would fix this disparity and ensure that ranchers who have grazing agreements on national grasslands are treated the same as permittees on other federal lands.
“South Dakota is home to three national grasslands, and ranchers who choose to graze livestock on them deserve the same rights as permit holders on other federal lands,” said Thune. “This common-sense legislation would streamline permittee rights at Buffalo Gap, Fort Pierre, and Grand River, along with other national grasslands and federal lands across the country.”
“Unfortunately, national grasslands permittees do not have the same due process rights that Bureau of Land Management and national forest permittees currently enjoy,” said Ross Nielson, president of the Association of National Grasslands. “The Association of National Grasslands appreciates Senator Thune’s efforts in sponsoring legislation to address this long-standing inequity for national grasslands permit holders.”
This legislation would allow national grassland permittees:
- The right to 10-year permits;
- First priority for receipt of a new permit;
- Entitlement to written notice of any permit violations and an opportunity to achieve compliance before cancellation or suspension proceedings related to the permit; and
- Except in cases of emergency, no permit cancellation without a two-year notification.
This bill is supported by the Association of National Grasslands, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association.