Due to drought conditions, the federal Bureau of Land Management plans to sharply curtail winter-grazing permits in San Rafael Swell and Price River areas.
BLM Moab District Manager Gene Nodine said ranchers who graze cattle on those two desert allotments are being told range lands cannot sustain traditional grazing this winter."The ranges are in pretty bad shape," he said. "There's been no regrowth, leaving the ranges in the same shape as when the cattle came off them this spring."
Anyway, Nodine added, there probably is not enough feed nor water on the desert to sustain livestock.
In some areas, however, the grass is good enough to keep some livestock. Therefore, grazing allotments will be monitored case by case, he said.
"For example, some ranchers may be granted grazing rights if they are willing to truck in their own water," Nodine said.
Restrictions will be imposed until drought conditions diminish and ranges can support grazing.
"We want to get ranchers back on the ranges as soon possible," he said. "But until conditions improve, there's going to be very little grazing allowed on San Rafael and Price River ranges."
Nodine said that grazing in the San Juan and Grand allotments also will be curtailed but not as extensively.
D.L. Taylor, whose ranching operations are among the state's largest, said he will give up all his BLM grazing permits this winter and sell his 1,000-head herd.
Taylor, chairman of the Grazing Advisory Board, currently runs his cattle along the Colorado River, between Arches National Park and LaSal Mountains.
He was informed by letter his grazing permits will be reduced 30 percent this winter, and possibly 100 percent after March 1.
"The BLM wouldn't say what would happen in March," he said.
He believes grazing permit reductions are in line with the drought, but many permit holders will sell their herds.
Ranchers faced with feeding cattle all winter will be looking to buy feed and to be supplemented by the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service's emergency livestock feed assistance program, Nodine said.