FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2015
Travis Bruner, Western Watersheds Project (208) 788-2290
New Opportunity to Retire Livestock Permits Accompanies Wilderness Designation
Hailey, ID- When President Obama signed legislation creating three new designated Wilderness Areas of 275,665 acres in Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud mountains and Jerry Peak last Friday, he also opened up the potential for long-term protection on over 700,000 acres of public land within and adjacent to the new Wilderness areas. The new law authorizes the "donation of any valid existing leases or permits authorizing grazing on public land or National Forest System land all or a portion of which are within" a mapped area included with the Legislation and requires that the secretaries of Agriculture and Interior accept the donated lease or permit and see that livestock grazing permanently ends.
"This new retirement zone of nearly three-quarters of a million acres represents a tremendous potential for expanded conservation in central Idaho," said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. "Permanently removing livestock and fences from public lands improves wildlife habitat, increases watershed health, protects soils, and enhances recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of these wild places. We're grateful to Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) for recognizing this win-win solution to ending grazing conflict and enabling such a huge opportunity."
Private foundations including the Sagebrush Habitat Conservation Fund are willing to pay grazing permittees in exchange for their voluntary donation of grazing permits to the land management agencies. This type of payment incentivizes the protection of resources that is achieved by permanent retirement of livestock grazing and can provide a substantial payout for ranchers who desire to give up their public land grazing permits.
"Permanent retirement provides a great benefit to wildlife and critically threatened anadromous fish runs," said Bruner. "Every acre protected from livestock is another acre where wolves don't risk lethal retribution for being carnivores, where native fish can flourish in healthy streams and where elk and deer won't have to compete with cows and sheep for the best forage."
The recent reintroduction of the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA), H.R. 3410, by Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) provides the opportunity to expand voluntary grazing permit retirement across the west.
Read the final Idaho legislation here.
Learn more about REVA here.
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Western Watersheds Project, Inc
PO Box 1770
Hailey, Idaho 83333
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