Policy and Legislation Involving Grazing Rights in Nevada
Federal and state laws and regulations intersect when discussing grazing rights in Nevada, yet the federal government is the bigger player when it comes to land rights. The federal government owns and administers 85% of Nevada’s land area. Thus the federal level has a large influence on states and local resources and laws (Legislative Counsel Bureau).
The federal land in Nevada that is used for agriculture is predominantly overlooked by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the United States department of the Interior (DOI) and by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The BLM is the primary federal agency in charge of managing the grazing land in Nevada. These parties perform periodic assessments to decide how much livestock can grazed on any one range at any time. These assessments look to see if grazing is at its optimum level while also considering plant diversity, wildlife, and recreation (Legislative Counsel Bureau).
Under The Taylor Act of 1934, ranchers are required to lease or obtain permits in order to graze on federal land. Additionally, they must pay a fee that is determined by the number and type of livestock they intend to graze and the length of time using the public land. Until 1994, Nevada grazing regulations remained fairly unchanged. In 1994, the DOI began revising grazing regulations, referred to as “Rangeland Reform ’94,” which involved “grazing preference, ownership of range improvements, and mandatory qualifications for permit applicants (Legislative Counsel Bureau 2014, 2).” Many saw these new regulations as a way to limit grazing on public lands. In response to the Rangeland Reform ’94 Nevada Legislature initiated the Rangeland Resources Commission in 1999, financed by the livestock industry. It addressed rising concern over the declination of Nevada ranching by advancing the benefits of rangelands by disseminating educational information and encouraging collaboration.
In 1976 The Public Law 94-565 initiated the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which is designed to make annual payments to the state government as compensation for the a lack of state revenue due to federal land in their state. The payments seek to help state services such as, firefighting, police, and and search-and-rescue operations that federal lands often benefit from (US Department of the Interior).