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BABBITT SEEKS COMMENT ON REFORMING GRAZING

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Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt is offering one more chance for ranchers, conservationists and government land managers to comment on grazing reform proposals. But your comments must be post-marked no later than July 23.

"Our goal is simple - to protect the public rangelands for all those who use them," Babbitt said. "But rangeland management is complex, and to ensure that our analysis covers all the important issues, we need interested people to participate in the process."The Bureau of Land Management, a division with the Department of Interior, is currently preparing an environmental impact statement that will analyze the environmental and social impacts of grazing reform on public lands.

Issues the BLM plans to address include grazing fees, rangeland condition standards and guidelines, the subleasing of grazing allotments and how to better administer grazing policy.

These issues reflect concerns raised by people who attended public meetings on grazing policy that Babbitt held in Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

More than 20,000 livestock operators graze sheep and cattle on approximately 165 million acres of public lands administered by the BLM, most of it in the West. The last major revision in management of these rangelands, including the establishment of the current fee formula, occurred in 1988.

Those who want to participate in rangeland management reform will have several more opportunities in the EIS development process. They will also have a chance to comment on proposed regulations to be published in August.

"We realize this is a short time frame, but after receiving input from more than 4,000 people who participated in public meetings and have submitted comments, we have already gained a great deal of information," Babbitt said.

Interested parties should send written comments and suggests to the Bureau of Land Management, Division of Rangeland Resources, 1849 C. Street N.W., Washington DC 20240.