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Your Money’s Worth

Written by Dennis Sun

      Well, November is here, and if you are a public lands rancher, it is that time again for you to send in your voluntary assessment to the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition. Most of those monies collected in Wyoming will go to the national Public Lands Council (PLC) in Washington, D.C.

This month, public land ranchers from all over the West will be asked by their states to send in their financial contributions so they can pay their PLC assessment. As you know, there have been many lawsuits filed over the West lately concerning endangered species and livestock grazing on public lands, and the Public Lands Council, backed by their states, has fought the never-ending battle by representing you, the public lands ranchers, on these cases in the court rooms and Congress.

For years, some radical environmental groups have made millions of dollars by suing the federal land management agencies and then collecting their overpriced attorney’s fees from the government. It was a great way for them to bring in dollars for their organization, and in the past, it has worked. I use this example because, for us to keep grazing livestock on the public lands, we need some federal laws and regulations changed and diligently watched over. This takes “boots on the ground” in Washington, D.C., and those boots are the Public Lands Council.

The Public Lands Council recently updated their message, website and mission. If the money comes in, they plan to hire a person to work exclusively on endangered species. Just because the sage grouse wasn’t listed doesn’t mean we won the war. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. New management plans approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service (FS) may make livestock grazing and other multiple uses on public lands difficult. We are lucky here in Wyoming, thanks to the hard work of the Wyoming Coalition and Governor Matt Mead and his staff. They got some of the plans changed to help us.

Today there are 22,000 public land ranchers who use 250 million acres of federal land to graze their livestock in 14 states, 11 of which have sage grouse and their habitat. Also, 19 percent of the national beef herd grazes on public lands, 40 percent of the western cattle spend time grazing on public lands and over 50 percent of the nation’s sheep herd grazes on the public lands sometime during the year. The stories of the good that these ranchers do almost never gets out, the national PLC office is working with a Washington, D.C. public relations firm to help tell our story to congressional members, their staffs and to the American public. Public lands ranchers have some great stories, and they need to be told in the correct way to do the best good for the public lands and us.

We all need your help. By sending your voluntary assessment in this month to the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association office, you are helping to ensure the future of these activities. As a public lands rancher, you should have received a letter and assessment card recently. Please pay your assessment, fill out the card and send it back.

Be a part of the good that is happening in the West today. A small effort by everyone gets things done and ensures the future of our ranching families on public lands. I sent mine in today. We’re hoping to see yours next.