It is with interest that I have read of the continuing controversy surrounding the use of public lands by agricultural interests. It seems the only consideration addressed is the cost per animal-unit-month for grazing. There is no mention made of the other costs ranchers must bear in connection with fencing and development of this land.
The livestock rancher who pays the public range fees also pays for fencing, water improvement and roads and then shares the benefits of these improvements with other "multiple-use" users.While in years past there has been overgrazing on occasion, I feel it would be to our mutual benefit to continue with the formula promulgated by the Public Range Improvement Act of 1978. This act established a "floor fee," which is indexed to the market prices of beef cattle, production costs and forage-rental rates.
In its "State of the Public Rangelands 1990," BLM states that the "public rangelands are in a better condition than at any time in this century." It is in the economic self-interest of livestock men to maintain these lands in a good and productive condition.
Rather than looking for a scapegoat for the problems created by a shrinking habitat for wild animals, we should look for cooperation with the men who do the most to maintain and enhance the environment that is left.