Many people today don't have a knowledgeable understanding
of the legal
relationship between the ranchers and the federal and/or state governments
as it relates to public lands. Many people do not realize that the
rancher holds legal rights to graze cattle on public lands. For
more detail, read the article by Wayne Hage titled
"What, Exactly, Are Public Lands".
Another valuable and informative article is by Angus McIntosh titled
"The Grazing Allotment,
Mr. Mark Hillman, former Colorado state
Senator, eloquently stated "When a
mere majority, which has no investment of time or labor nor any legitimate
stake in your property, can seize it for their own purposes or regulate it
into financial ruin, property ownership has become a privilege, not a
right." in a Denver Post article
rights become privileges".
When the west was first settled, the
government actively worked to protect the rancher's grazing rights.
They wanted to encourage and motivate people to begin living in the area,
despite the hardships, danger and personal investment.
By establishing the
Act in 1934, the rancher was further protected when he purchased
deeded acres. The Taylor Grazing Act ensured the rancher's rights to
graze cattle on the federal lands, and gave the rancher the right to fence
that area in with his deeded land.
A ranch is typically comprised of the
rancher's deeded acreage (land the rancher owns outright) AND the grazing
rights (allotments) the rancher also owns, granting him the legal right to graze his
livestock on the public land. These property rights are considered
assets by the government, and are TAXED accordingly. Ranchers
who own grazing rights and allotments on federal lands are NOT renters or
tenants. They have property rights associated with the public
Like any business, ranchers are
responsible for the cost of the improvements they must make to manage
their ranch, even when those improvements are physically located on
public land. The property rights held by the ranchers are what
ensure they will be able to realize a return on the investments they make
for improvements on public land in their allotment.
Many groups proposing wilderness type
designations on the public land are not giving any consideration to the
property rights of the ranchers. We hope to provide information so
that people can make decisions that consider ALL of the factors involved
in public land management.
Testimony by NMSU professor Dr.
John Fowler to the "Public Land Grazing Task
Force" dated June 15, 2000 documents how grazing cuts have
been more severe in Wilderness than on comparable multiple use allotments.
Even allotments under multiple use that were located adjacent to
Wilderness areas were cut more than allotments more distant from
Wilderness. Another valuable resource is the transcript of the
given by Mike Webster to the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and
Forests regarding H.R. 3606 and S. 3794 on September 27, 2006. Mr.
Webster is a 4th generation cattle rancher and provides a rancher's
perspective on wilderness issues.