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HATCH TELLS BABBITT NOT TO HASTEN RANGELAND REFORMS

SHARE HATCH TELLS BABBITT NOT TO HASTEN RANGELAND REFORMS

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, warned Monday that Westerners in the Senate are ready to wage another war with the White House if it proceeds with proposed rangeland reforms.

Hatch wrote Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt complaining that he has heard Babbitt might try to make his controversial proposed reforms final by the end of the month - before the new GOP-controlled Congress convenes.Many Westerners have blasted those reforms, which include doubling grazing fees over three years; giving the government title to improvements that ranchers make on public lands; and creating local advisory boards to adopt new environmental standards.

Hatch said that if a final rule is issued before year's end, "I would not hesitate to consider other means to limit or prevent implementation of the final rule until it is thoroughly reviewed."

He added, "My discussions with my Western colleagues suggest that there is support for such action." Many GOP candidates in the West ran on platforms vowing to fight what it called the Clinton administration's "war on the West."

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said no firm date has been set for issuing final rangeland reform rules.