The Interior Department plans to propose higher fees for grazing on federal lands by the end of next month, Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Saturday.
Environmentalists criticized President Clinton for backing away from his plan to include higher grazing fees in the federal budget that Congress will adopt this year. But the president remains committed to raising the fees in 1993, Babbitt said on CNN's "Newsmaker Saturday."Regulators can raise the fees without consulting Congress, he said.
"I expect that we will have grazing reform out on the street by the end of July," Babbitt said. The proposal would then go through a public comment period. Babbitt did not say how much the proposed fee hike would be.
Ranchers now graze their cattle and sheep on public land for far less than it costs to graze on private range land, Babbitt said. But Western congressional leaders oppose higher fees.
Clinton also is committed to reforms to ensure that mining companies pay royalties when they take minerals from federal land, Babbitt said. But that will require legislation, he said.
The administration also plans changes to protect public lands from damage caused by grazing and mining, he said.