The American Farm Bureau Federation and Utah Farm Bureau Federation have asked a federal district court in Utah to overturn a host of illegal land-use restrictions hampering ranchers in the western states.
The groups made the request as part of a motion to intervene on the side of the State of Utah in a lawsuit against the federal government. The litigation challenges federal land management plans imposing restrictions on ranching and other human activities in Utah as part of a larger effort to manage federal lands for species protection rather than for “multiple uses” as required by law.
In papers filed Tuesday, the Farm Bureau organizations asked the U.S. Court for the District of Utah to find that the federal government broke the law when it drew up rules designed to protect the habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse. Among other things, the complaint alleges that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service ignored numerous congressional mandates designed to ensure transparency and management of federal lands for multiple uses and sustained yields. The suit cites violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Ranchers have long used federal lands for grazing,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “And all that time, ranchers have been at the forefront of protecting forage and water resources so that wildlife and ranching can thrive together. These plans, however, hang ranchers out to dry in the drought. Western ranchers have faced continued threats to their water rights and reductions in their ability to graze livestock on federal lands. We have to intervene now to preserve our ranches and our way of life.”