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Environmentalist Group Criticizes Federal Oversight Of Grazing On Public Lands

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Some environmentalists say the federal government is doing a poor job of managing grazing, which has left large portions of public lands in bad condition.

Kirsten Stade is advocacy director at a group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. She says according to data from the Bureau of Land Management, the condition of nearly a third of western federally-owned rangelands has never been assessed.

“No one’s ever gone out and done this sampling, this monitoring of grazing impacts, yet grazing continues,” Stade says. “So we have no data on a good portion of our rangelands.”

BLM data shows that nearly a quarter of grazing allotments in Utah don’t meet the agency’s standards for soil condition, water quality, and plant and animal habitat.

Many lawmakers in Utah are calling for federal lands to be turned over to the state. But Kirsten Stade says while she may criticize the federal government’s management of rangelands, she thinks the BLM still manages them better than the state would.

“I’d want any private or state entity to be able to prove that they can do a better job,” she says. “And of course they don’t have funds or the resources to do any management or monitoring of the vast resources that are now in federal hands.”

A spokesperson from the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah office did not respond to requests for comment.

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