Studies & Reports

Conservation, University of Washington


Conservation Magazine, The Source for Environmental Intelligence, March 4, 2015
In southeastern Oregon, a natural experiment has been quietly taking place over nearly a quarter of a century. In 1991, cattle grazing became prohibited in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Now, twenty-four years later, researchers are attempting to understand how the cessation of grazing has allowed the wetland ecosystems to recover.

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Costs And Consequences

The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America's Public Lands
Prepared for the Center for Biological Diversity by Christine Glaser, Chuck Romaniello and Karyn Moskowitz, Jan. 2015

Study: Livestock Grazing on Public Lands Cost Taxpayers $1 Billion Over Past Decade A new analysis finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land. Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land. Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds.


Fiscal Costs of Federal Public Lands Livestock Grazing

By Wild Earth Guardians
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported the federal government spends at least $144 million each year managing private livestock grazing on federal public lands, but collects only $21 million in grazing fees -- for a net loss of at least $123 million per year.

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Assessing the Full Cost of the Federal Grazing Program

Prepared for the Center for Biological Diversity
By Karyn Moskowitz, MBA & Chuck Romaniello, MS AG. Econ.
Several efforts have been made to estimate the full costs of the federal livestock grazing program. This study examines budget records and other relevant data to derive a minumum of $128 million for the full, annual cost to the U.S.Treasury of grazing lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service in the western U.S.

Articles to Check out

PEER Interactive Maps show Impacts of Livestock Grazing
Cross Posted from PEER Report - Nov. 15, 2014

The Bureau of Land Management's Land Health Standards (LHS) evaluations assess the conditions of BLM lands with respect to a number of "Fundamentals of Rangeland Health," defined in 43 CFR 4180.1, that include properly functioning watersheds (the condition of soils and vegetation, which impact water filtration and water quality), maintenance of ecological processes (how the hydrologic cycle, nutrient cycle, and energy flow are maintained) to support healthy biotic populations and communities, maintenance of the quality of surface waters, and maintenance of habitats for native plant and animal communities and listed or at-risk species. In its evaluations, the BLM determines whether allotments are meeting standards, are failing to meet standards, and if failing, whether impacts of livestock grazing are identified as a significant cause, or are failing to meet standards due to factors other than livestock.

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BLM Says It Cannot Track Cattle on Its Lands

Blames Lack of "Seamless Data" for Excluding Livestock from Range Assessments
Story from PEER

Washington, DC — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says it was an absence of “reliable data”—and not politics—that caused it to exclude consideration of commercial livestock impacts from multi-million dollar assessments of environmental conditions on Western range lands. BLM thus rejected the first scientific misconduct complaint filed against it by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which today released a detailed rebuttal of BLM’s self-exoneration.

The Atlantic: Ben Nelson Goes Cow (Fees) Tipping

Article by Andrew Cohen
Federal grazing fees are not a hot issue. But the Nebraska senator's new bill to bring them up to market rates is an astute political move
When outgoing Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announcedlast month that he was pushing to reduce America's national deficit by reducing "welfare ranching" in America's heartland, so quiet was the political response in Washington that you could practically hear the crickets chirping along the Potomac. Undaunted, Sen. Nelson last Wednesday went one step further, announcing that he has introduced an eminently level-headed "Fair Grazing Fee" bill, designed to require the various agencies of the executive branch to charge market-level grazing fees for private ranchers who are running livestock on public land.

BLM Report: Public Lands Ranching Fails Rangeland Health Standards on a Third of Rangelands Assessed, 33 Million Acres

Story by Brian Ertz
A new federal assessment of rangelands in the West finds a disturbingly large portion fails to meet range health standards principally due to commercial livestock operations. In the last decade as more land has been assessed, estimates of damaged lands have doubled in the 13-state Western area where the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducts major livestock leasing.
The “Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring and Evaluation Report for Fiscal Year 2011” covers BLM allotments in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The report totals BLM acreage failing to meet rangeland health standards in measures such as water quality, watershed functionality and wildlife habitat.

Princeton University: Wildlife & cows can be partners, not enemies, in search for food

princeton-university-wildlife-and-cowsStory by Morgan Kelly, Photo by Dan Rubenstein
Princeton University researchers are leading an effort to put to pasture the long-held convention of cattle ranching that wild animals compete with cows for food.
Two recently published papers — including one in the journal Science — offer the first experimental evidence that allowing cattle to graze on the same land as wild animals can result in healthier, meatier bovines by enhancing the cows' diet. The findings suggest a new approach to raising cattle that could help spare wildlife from encroaching ranches, and produce more market-ready cows in less time.

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