On more than 250 million acres of public lands in the American West, grazing by domestic livestock constitutes by far the most widespread human-caused impact on fundamental range conditions, including habitat quality, riparian functioning, and endangered species. More extensive than the impacts of logging and mining combined, commercial livestock grazing exacts an enormous toll on native ecosystems and wildlife throughout the American West. It is a contributing factor to the endangerment of 22 percent of all federally listed threatened and endangered species, and a major contributor to non-point source water pollution and desertification.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the nation’s largest public lands-managing agency and administrator of grazing permits, is required to monitor the ecological impacts of grazing on its lands. BLM conducts evaluations of whether its grazing allotments meet “Land Health Standards” (LHS), but until now the results of these evaluations have been largely inaccessible to those outside the agency and their results have escaped independent review.
PEER obtained these records via the Freedom of Information Act, and has worked with a former BLM contractor to analyze what they reveal about the condition of our public lands and BLM’s discharge of its duties to safeguard them.
The BLM’s Land Health Standards (LHS) evaluations assess the conditions of BLM lands with respect to a number of “Fundamentals of Rangeland Health