Stewart, Hatch, Lee introduce bills to protect Utah’s grazing rights, Grand Staircase-Escalante

Cattle grazing, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Brett Barrett, St. George News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Chris Stewart and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee introduced the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Grazing Protection Act Thursday in their respective chambers of Congress, companion bills aiming to protect traditional and existing grazing access on the monument. Among other things, the bills propose that the Secretary of the Interior restore livestock grazing to the level of usage in those areas that existed as of Sept. 17, 1996.

Read full text of the House bill: HR 743 Bill to pass Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Grazing Protection Act.

“Having grown up working with cattle and with my wife’s family as ranchers, I understand the importance of grazing rights,” Stewart said. “Grazing is critical to communities all over rural Utah, which is why I’m doing all I can in Congress to protect those rights.”

When President Clinton designated 1.7 million acres of land in Garfield and Kane counties as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 – a move Hatch called the ‘mother of all land grabs’ – he included grazing language in the proclamation.

Unfortunately, to the congressmen’s viewpoint, the BLM is in the process of amending the management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante, which may include decreasing or even eliminating grazing rights.

Read more: Grand Staircase-Escalante grazing management plan; public comment opportunities

“Severely restricting grazing – or eliminating it altogether – goes against the historical use of the land in and around the monument and is directly at odds with the original proclamation designating the monument,” Stewart said.

“Grazing is a critical component of Utah’s rural economy,” Lee said in January upon joining Hatch in introducing a proposed amendment to the Keystone pipeline legislation that, he said, if adopted, would preserve the grazing rights that Utah families have used for generations. The Utah senators at that time also indicated they’d bring the stand-alone bill described in this report.

To fix the potential problem the BLM’s amended management plan would create, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Grazing Protection Act does the following:

This bill directs the BLM to continue any grazing that has been established either before or after the designation of the monument, according to reasonable regulations, policies and practices, on the condition that grazing levels continue at current levels to the maximum extent practicable.

This bill also grants the Secretary of Interior clear authority to issue new or renew grazing permits on the monument.

Stewart’s bill was assigned to the House Natural Resources committee Wednesday for consideration preliminary to being presented to the House for vote.  Hatch and Lee’s bill was assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee Wednesday for like consideration.


Related posts

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Bender February 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Income from federal public lands grazing represents 0.08% of Utah’s total. This legislation is less about helping Utah’s rural economy than it is about clothing the sponsoring politicians in phony cowboy mystique. Each of the handful of ranchers who makes a hard knock living on these public lands in the monument is heavily subsidized by you and me as taxpayers.

  • laytonian February 6, 2015 at 9:15 am

    How about we RAISE the fees, rather than subsidizing the welfare ranchers who provide less than 4% of our nation’s beef?

    It’s ridiculous that they pay ONLY $1.53 for “a cow AND her calf” per month ... and then, when they refuse to pay (Cliven Bundy), they are allowed to rack up millions in back fees and fines.

  • native born new mexican February 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

    This is the right thing to do. People have a right to use and make a living off of the land where they live. Government has no right to interfere with that. Whether it is the king’s forest where no peasant dared pick up a stick of fire wood or the modern equivalent of the king and his forest the BLM, the forest service the park service etc. locking up huge land areas and claiming that you and only you can control and use that land is wrong and won’t work in end. No the government controllers, the international elitists ( same thing) are not preserving the land so an over paid white collar city dweller can go for a walk. That is only the lie they are telling you. They want to control the land just like the own and control every thing else in the world.

    • Chris February 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Here we go again with your misinformed ranting. No, the people only have the right to use and make a living on land they OWN personally. The public lands are just that–public. No one, including deadbeats like Cliven Bundy, is entitled to exclusive rights to this land. The legal owner is, and has been since 1848, the federal government. If you believe at all in our system of land ownership, then you must accept the federal government’s right to determine how its land is used.

      • native born new mexican February 7, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Chris why don’t you buy all the land you want to do your recreational activities on. Yes buy every piece of it your self! Keep talking about 1848. As a New Mexico native I know what happened then. The war with Mexico was an unjust war of aggression with the US playing the bully against it’s weaker neighbor so the US could grab territory. Go read the history. You can talk about treaty’s all you want too. They were forced on Mexico and the US paid only pennies for all the land they grabbed. I do not in any way respect what happened in that aggressive action. It is nothing for the US to be proud of. I also know what happened to the natives in the southwest after the US came in. The US government and rich US citizens and companies like the railroads grabbed everything including private land- Spanish land grants because they could use US tax laws, political influence and military force to do it. The natives in the area were left paupers with no owner ship or control of the land they had lived on for centuries of time. It was no different than the clearing of the Scottish highlands by a few rich people so they could use the land for their sheep. People live in the rural southwest. It is their home. They have a right to be able to use the land they live on to support themselves and their families. It is the natural law right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you can not use the land you, can not live. it is that simple. The revolution of 1910 in Mexico was because the Mexican dictator Diaz and a handful of rich American investors (what were they doing down there??) had such total control of all the land that the common man could no longer even live. I mean no food, no money to buy cloths, watching children die because of this etc.
        You will never be able to justify this kind of behavior on the part of government which is nothing more than a bunch of corrupt elitists who have gotten themselves into positions of control and power. They have no right to do this to the rest of the powerless ones beneath them.

        • Chris February 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

          You are amazingly pathetic. Each sentence of yours is a contradiction of the one before it. We all know the history of the American southwest, and what you’ve told us provides nothing to prove your point. We live in a nation of laws, but you and Cliven believe that you have some unilateral right to ignore the law because of some irrational “natural law” that exists only in your mind. Your viewpoint has never held up in any court of law in this nation’s history, and if rationality prevails, it never will.

    • Bender February 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Some serious confusion in your post NATIVE BORN NEW MEXICAN about government’s role here. These lands are held in trust by the federal government for — and managed for the benefit of — all US citizens. You seem to be of the opinion that any man ought to be able to do whatever he wants on the monument. This tends to work poorly in practice.

    • Mesaizacd February 6, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Hey native born new mexican try getting the facts right before shooting off your mouth and you wouldn’t look like the IDIOT that you are

  • Chris February 6, 2015 at 10:27 am

    This may seem like quibbling over semantics, but there have never been grazing “rights” codified in U.S. law. The term “rights” has a specific legal definition, particularly as it pertains to property law. Various rights attach to real property in this country, including water rights and mineral rights. Although they exist in European countries, among others, grazing rights have never existed as such a right under U.S. law. Stewart is exposing his ignorance of American jurisprudence by referring to “grazing rights.”

  • beacon February 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Laytonian, it’s even worse. The fee is actually $1.35 per AUM not $1.53. President Obama tried to get it raised a few years ago and was stopped. Can’t imagine by whom! Anyway, if the state gets public lands, I’ll bet these cowboys will be paying more than that. Private grazing costs more than $10 per AUM. Some do it in Utah just because they don’t want to have to deal with the Feds. Others, such as those who Stewart, Hatch and Lee support will have these guys do their dirty work for them so they can continue to have their way and pocket the savings – savings that I suppose then end up on Stewart’s, Hatch’s and Lee’s pockets. Maybe they can use it to decorate their Congressional offices ostentatiously as others have done.

  • BIG GUY February 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    No one above argues that grazing damages the land, only that ranchers aren’t paying what it’s worth. So if the figures above are correct, sounds like the Feds should periodically auction grazing permits. The FCC does that with radio spectrum and gets billions in return. Even if grazing permit auctions returned only modest amounts, the public would know it was getting properly compensated.

  • mesaman February 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    The citified liberals are out in force tonight. I bet they feel right at home feeding off each others left sided thought processes.

    • Ron February 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Wow! I was about to agree with the other folks posting here until I read your cogent and concise argument against their position. (Sarcasm? Yes!)

  • beacon February 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    It’s interesting that the BLM review of grazing practices in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is even thinking of not letting permit holders let their permits expire if they decide to do that. Now that’s a bit crazy in my opinion. With grazing taking a toll on our public lands, if a permit holder from the past wishes to let it go, seems that should be allowed. When President Clinton established the GSENM it was to sustain “historical” grazing but I don’t think there was anything about not allowing people who had historically grazed being able to stop. This just seems like more work on the part of ranchers to continue to practice when it’s not needed.

  • Burton February 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    It’s all the federal government’s land and property to allow whatever they feel fit. Just like you! And your families and your belongings. They are all fed property (or will be soon) and you fools don’t even get it. These lands been grazed for hundreds of years, long before you or me. All you hypocrite people want all these ranchers to “buy” thier own land and then when the state tries to take control of the land to do just that you whine and cry about it. Federal government foot soldiers is all you are. And you want access to these lands for your own needs or recreation but don’t want to buy it. Oh no! You want the big brother to provide it for you because you don’t want to spend your own money on it, you just want to use it. What’s the difference? Pathetic, you folks are pathetic.

    • Mesaizacd February 6, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      OMG LOL.! You are pathetic and also nothing but a uninformed blow hard LOL I have never so much idiotic garbage in one sentence. LOL I’m still laughing I’m going to show your statement to some friends because they all like a good laugh…. LOL I’m still laughing

  • pickin February 6, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    I’m am amazed at how completely uninformed some who claim they are informed are. Yes grazing permits are relatively cheap, but know that virtually all land maintainance is done at the ranchers expense. If you think for one second that all the wonderful wildlife we have in this area would be here, as abundantly and thrive the way they do without the ranchers providing water for them you are dreaming. They know where the springs are and keep them healthy and running for all the animals not just the cows. Spring and water mintainance costs thousands annually, per rancher. Everyone benefits from their efforts from sportsmen, hikers, bird watchers, atv enthusiasts, even that turtle that isn’t native that causes the rancher to loose grazing rights every year.
    Who maintains the water without ranchers … The government? Please. Go ahead keep complaining about those who pay a nominal fee to preserve their livelihood and provide everyone with benefit. Or pay more taxes for some new government program to do what ranchers are already paying them to do.

    have you look into fire control. Do you have any idea how much per day a fire costs us; sure lets let all that grass grow un grazed in a desert sounds brilliant

    • Chris February 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      So, how did all “the wonderful wildlife” exist before the wonderful ranchers came around? By the way, its “maintenance.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.