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Stay Educated and Involved

 Today’s news pace is instantaneous, no doubt about it, and with the social media – a platform that a lot of us don’t understand but realize is here to stay – we receive instant news all day and night. The news comes in many ways these days, not only on TV, radio and in newspapers, but also by e-mail, text and Twitter. So take your pick of what is available and use it.

A couple weeks ago we saw just how fast news was forming when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met and discussed the Grazing Improvement Act sponsored by our own Senator John Barrasso. Within the span of a few hours the bill was out of committee and on its way to the next stop in the legislative process – a process that seems to not have many rules these days, as Congress baffles us all with what they are saying and doing. 

Another bill also sponsored by Senator Barrasso that we need to watch is the Water Rights Protection Act. Both this Act and the Grazing Improvement Act will make life easier for public lands ranchers in the future, or we hope they will, as we don’t know the final product yet. 

One way to gauge how important a bill is to look at the opposition to it, and opponents were out in force a couple weeks ago with the Grazing Improvement Act. Their actions did have some effect on the outcome. One thing we can be sure of is that the opposition doesn’t play fair and may not speak the truth always. 

One quote I read from a wild horse group was, “This bill, if passed would give the BLM, the Forest Service and others the complete and exclusive authority on review of grazing permits. Over 265 million acres already degraded by millions of head of welfare cattle and sheep may suffer even more with the passage of this inappropriately named act. The only thing this act might ‘improve’ is the ability of welfare ranchers to have increased influence over the management of our public lands. Make your voice heard today. If passed, wild horses and burros, already marginalized on these lands, could suffer even more, as would all other wildlife that share our public lands.” 

Another comment read, “If this act is passed, we can kiss about half of Wyoming’s wild horses goodbye. Will their new state logo be a bucking bull?” 

The opposition to public lands ranching is serious, well funded and well organized, so we have to be better organized and better funded. In one of the comments on the website a wild horse supporter wrote, “Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.) is a democrat and makes lots of supportive noises, but he needs to get a loud and clear message or he has a tendency to wimp out.” 

You see? They play hardball and so should we.

If you’re a public lands rancher, take some time off or send a member of your family to this week’s 2013 Winter Roundup to attend the Stock Grower’s convention. The Federal Lands Committee meeting is on the afternoon of Dec. 3, and Dustin Van Liew of National Public Lands Council will speak on the morning of Dec. 4. 

Learn the issues, how to respond and how to support your views. Your family’s future depend on it.