Congress has passed a variety of legislative acts over the past 200 years that regulate or fail to regulate public grazing land in the western United States. These laws have failed to properly protect the fragile grassland ecology that is prevalent throughout the West, leading to extreme soil compaction, soil erosion, decreases in plant and animal biodiversity, and pollution of riparian environments. Nevada, being 85% public land, is highly affected by these regulations. This fact along with the recent skirmishes and legal battles between Cliven Bundy and the United States government prompted us to review the issue of inadequate grazing policies and propose our own policy recommendation.
In this report, we investigate the history of the federal regulations that pertain to public grazing lands in the United States. We then examine the following stakeholders views and their individual grazing policy proposals: the Federal Government, State Government, Ranchers, Conservation NGOs, and Native Americans. After examining the perspectives and interests of the involved stakeholders, we suggest the following policy recommendation that considers the interest of all stakeholders while also prioritizing the sustainability of grazing land in Nevada. We recommend that Congress remove the restrictions on grazing fee increase set by The Taylor Grazing Act and allow it to be incrementally increased up to 50% of the private fee by 2030. Furthermore, we request that Congress initiate a reward or subsidy program for ranchers who practice ecologically friendly grazing. Lastly, we would allocate 2.5% of the current federal land to the state of Nevada on a 25-year lease.