Bipartisan bill seeks grazing ‘flexibility’ on federal lands

By Scott Streater | 06/06/2024 06:41 AM EDT

Ranchers would be able to change grazing schedules and animal transfers during wildfires, drought and extreme weather.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at the Capitol in 2022. The two introduced bipartisan grazing legislation Wednesday. Francis Chung/POLITICO

A pair of Western senators introduced bipartisan legislation this week to ensure ranchers with federal grazing allotments can quickly alter operations in response to wildfire and drought.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday filed S. 4454, which aims to provide federal grazing permittees “increased operational flexibility to improve the long-term ecological health of the Federal land” when conditions on the ground change rapidly.

“Ranchers need more flexibility to adapt and respond to on-the-ground threats like drought and wildfires,” Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “This will both support our ranching communities and encourage better management of our federal lands.”


The bill outlines a process whereby a permittee or leaseholder can request that the Interior secretary direct the Bureau of Land Management to grant “a variance to the terms and conditions of the existing applicable grazing permit or lease.”