Ranchers across the country enjoy what is deemed a permit value when they pay grazing fees (Tassell et al. 1997). The permit value is the subsidy provided by using undervalued public lands for grazing. The premise behind this value lies in the aggregate value of land managed by the BLM. Averaged across sixteen states, the permit value is expected to even out when applied nationally.

While the state receives Nevada specific receipts, the Rangeland Betterment Fund receives 50% of both Section 3 and Section 15 receipts (Bureau of Land Management 2011). Revenue distributed to Nevada returns a portion of the tax income that was withheld because of federal ownership. Revenue designated to the Rangeland Betterment Fund is expected to cover the maintenance and monitoring of these federal lands. However, the burden of upkeep costs is passed along to the ranchers. These costs when totaled with the grazing fees surpass that of private land leases in 2010, $34.58 and $32.03 per AUM respectively (BuUntitledrns & Schick 2016). With the federal government supplying 85% of the land, there is no access to multiple suppliers, which forces disgruntled ranchers to submit to higher expenses .The calculated forage value based off of the grazing fee formula from the PRIA assumes that ranchers have means to diverse forage sources and leasing alternatives (Tassell et al. 1997). With roughly 85% of Nevada’s land managed by federal agencies, ranchers do not retain access to multiple suppliers. With the BLM’s attention dispersed across the whole western United States, ranchers believe the responsibility of governing should be designated to the state of Nevada. Nevada’s submission to the overreaching Federal Government grants it 12.5% of the Taylor Grazing Act Section 3 receipt distributions (Bureau of Land Management 2011).

Policy Proposal

Many ranchers desire land control to be transferred from federal agencies to Nevadan state agencies. State level monitoring would provide attention to local needs with observable, direct impacts of policies. Moving away from the aggregate federal model would allow proper valuation of rangelands. Nevada, as a sagebrush environment, does not receive the same cost advantage of the undervalued grazing fees. The abundant prairie grasslands of Wyoming, for example, would have a greater marginal benefit from the lowered fee. State level regulation is perceived to remove the excess financial burden currently weighing on the active 2,135,701 AUMs in Nevada.

If land were transferred to the state of Nevada, the land would no longer be subject to Section 3 of the TGA, which requires ranchers to maintain a privately owned base of operations adjacent to public lands, where their livestock must reside for part of the year (Bureau of Land Management 2011). Eliminating this policy would eliminate the travel expenses and fence maintenance expenses associated with grazing on public lands, decreasing overall grazing cost. Currently, the benefit of the undervalued grazing fee is unable to cover these additional costs since the forage in Nevada is less valuable than the national average on federal grazing lands. Therefore, ranchers desire to have decentralized, state-level directive that would provide optimal policies and fees specific to Nevadan ranchers.

Counter arguments

In the past, when federally managed land has been transferred to the state of Nevada, the state has sold the land to increase revenue (“Recreational Impacts of USFS and BLM Land Sell-off in Nevada”). This sold land would no longer be subject to monitoring or management by a government agency be that state or federal. Thus the transfer of land from federal management to state management would come with the risk of land sales that could decrease conservation effort in the fragile ecosystem of Nevadan public lands.

Works Cited:

Bureau of Land Management. “Public Land Statistics.” Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management, 199(2014): 1-265. Web. 25 April 2016.

Burns, Jes, and Tony Schick. “Controversial Federal Grazing Fees Not A Great Deal For Anyone.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2016.

“Recreational Impacts of USFS and BLM Land Sell-off in Nevada.” Our Public Lands, N.D. Web. 27 April 2016.

Tassell, L. W. Van et al. “Comparison of Forage Value on Private and Public Grazing Leases.” Journal of Range Management Archives 50.3 (2006): 300–306. Print.