The grazing fee for Western public lands administered by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service will be $1.43 per animal unit month (AUM) in 2004, up from $1.35 in 2003. The newly adjusted fee, which takes effect March 1, applies to more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service.
The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986. Under the regulation, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM. An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.
The annually adjusted grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted according to three factors--current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Based on the formula, the 2004 fee rose primarily because of an increase in beef cattle prices in 2003.
The $1.43 per AUM grazing fee applies to 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
The Forest Service applies different grazing fees to national grasslands and to lands under its management in the Eastern and Mid-western states and parts of Texas. The national grassland fee will be $1.52 per AUM and will also take effect March 1. The fee for the Eastern and Mid-western states and parts of Texas will be out later this month.
The BLM manages more land--261 million surface acres--than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.
The Forest Service manages 191 million acres of national forests and grasslands in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.