Know the Rules, Know Your Rights – Permittees Helping Permittees

Adapted from a presentation for Colorado Cattlemen’s Association/Public Lands Council by Cody Doig, CE Brooks and Associates
Stewards of the Land: Ranchers, Livestock and Federal Lands Editor's Note: We have compiled a list of all the articles we have published, as well as a timeline of the events, surrounding the Bundy Standoff and other incidents relating to government’s role in public land management such as the Hammond Fire Trial and the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Click here to read more. 

Colorado Public Lands Council, Colorado Wool Growers and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association have fielded a significantly higher level of inquiries about federal lands grazing rights in the past couple of months due to misleading or misinformed sources of information coming online. As was stated at the organizations’ recent federal lands seminars, “Don’t bet the ranch, keep the ranch”. The following is a brief overview of the law:

You have an Implied License to graze federal lands

Government’s implied consent to grazing on federal lands “did not confer any vested right on the complainant, nor did it deprive the United States of the power of recalling any implied license under which the land had been used for private purposes.” Light v. United States, 220 U.S. 523 (1911).

The Taylor Grazing Act

“So far as consistent with the purposes and provisions of this subchapter, grazing privileges recognized and acknowledged shall be adequately safeguarded, but the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a permit … shall not create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.” 43 U.S.C. § 315b.

The Granger-Thye Act

“The Secretary of Agriculture, in regulating grazing on the national forests and other lands administered by him in connection therewith; is authorized, upon such terms and conditions as he may deem proper, to issue permits for the grazing of livestock for periods not exceeding 10 years and renewals thereof: Provided, that nothing herein shall be construed as limiting or restricting any right, title, or interest of the United States in any land or resources.” 16 U.S.C.A. § 580L.

The Federal Lands Policy Management Act

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed as modifying in any way law existing on Oct. 21, 1976, with respect to the creation of right, title, interest or estate in or to public lands or lands in National Forests by issuance of grazing permits …” 43 U.S.C. § 1752(j).

So what are my rights when grazing federal lands

You do have rights and according to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it does not protect a grazing permit as a compensable property right. However, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments do provide procedural due process rights to a permittee. This is key when an agency moves through their decision-making process to change or renew your permit.

» Compensation for range improvements. 43 C.F.R. 4100.0-5.

» Processes guaranteed according to the National Environmental Policy Act.

» Processes guaranteed by rules and regulations.

» And, in Colorado, the right to mediation by the Department of Agriculture in dispute resolution with BLM — “Section 8 Review.” See 43 U.S.C. §§1702(k), 1752(d).

» Consultation and coordination with local governments. 43 C.F.R. §4120.2(a).

Keep the ranch …

» Monitor, monitor, monitor

» Get your local governments involved

» Colorado Public Lands Council, Colorado Wool Growers and Colorado Cattlemen’s as they have monitoring programs, experts and dispute resolutions processes with the agencies

» Don’t miss deadlines

» Seek legal advice at the appropriate time

» Legal theories that haven’t won, won’t win ❖