ELKO – The Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that a multi-party agreement had been finalized, ending a contentious grazing closure dispute on the Argenta allotment.
Administrative Law Judge James Heffernan dismissed pending appeals protesting the closures on June 24, making official the agreement that was reported on several days prior.
In addition to appeals filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, the closures sparked protests such as the Grass March/Cowboy Express – a coast-to-coast horse ride, after cattle were ordered off nine of 20 areas on the allotment due to ongoing drought.
Cowboys carried petitions calling for the ouster of BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado, as well as relief for other instances of perceived overreach on public land.
Furtado emphasized the closures were intended to be temporary.
“The goal from the beginning was to replace the temporary closure due to drought with a drought management plan that allows grazing while protecting the resources on the range,” he said in a statement.
Key elements of the agreement include a three-year trial period focused on adaptive management to respond to site-specific conditions, development of a stockmanship plan focused on the use of riding and supplement use to meet riparian and upland use levels, increased attention to monitoring, and a commitment by the BLM to complete the permit renewal process within three years based on information gained from the adaptive management trial period.
The BLM’s Acting State Director John Ruhs said the agreement demonstrated the agency’s commitment to maintain multiple-use while protecting resources.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our partners on sustainable grazing on the Argenta allotment this season and into the future,” he said.
Lynn Tomera, however, submitted a letter that was published in the Elko Daily Free Press explaining the ranchers’ trepidation to sign the deal.
“We signed knowing that it will be extremely difficult to comply with this very restrictive ‘agreement,’” she wrote.
Discussions leading up to the agreement included input from BLM staff, the National Riparian Services Team, Argenta permittees, Western Watersheds Project, former assemblyman John Carpenter, Nevada Lands Action Association and Public Lands Council.