The Land Report

Rockies 2018

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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32 The LandReport | R O C K I E S 2 0 1 8 LANDREPORT.COM T he overwhelming majority of the federal government's 610 million acres falls under the jurisdiction of four agencies: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service. The Interior Department oversees the first three agencies; the Forest Service is under the Department of Agriculture. Each of these federal agencies has its own rules and procedures about access to and use of its lands. In my experience, the most common interface ranchers have with federal public lands is via the BLM and the Forest Service. The Park Service runs a distant third, and Fish and Wildlife fourth. While Fish and Wildlife administers 89 million acres of federal land, only a small portion can be found in the West; 86 percent of Fish and Wildlife lands are in Alaska. Ad- ditional holdings are along the Gulf Coast. By contrast, the BLM manages more land — over 248 million surface acres — than any other federal agency. The agency also manages the mineral estate on 700 million subsurface acres. The latter figure tallies out to 30 percent of the nation's minerals. BLM management priorities are similar to those of the Forest Service. They include grazing, timber, energy development, recreation, wildlife and fish habitat, conservation, and watershed enhancement. Historically, each agency has emphasized different uses with BLM managing more rangelands and the Forest Service more forests. More than 155 million acres of BLM land is used for livestock grazing. That works out to nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who primarily graze cattle and sheep. Permits and leases generally cover a 10-year period and are renewable if the terms and conditions of the expiring permit are being met. Keep in mind that the history of the Western states is closely tied to livestock grazing. During the 1800s, large ranching operations were established using the free forage typically available on public domain lands. While these cattle and sheep empires waned after restrictions on grazing were imposed in the early 20th century, much of the culture of the rural West is still closely tied to this heritage. Many rural communities are still depend- ent upon ranching for their economic livelihood, and most ranches out West utilize federal and state lands for at least a portion of their grazing lands. One of my current listings, the Lower Ranch at Cross Mountain (above), exem- plifies this. The ranch's 27,000 deeded acres are not contiguous. Thanks to BLM leases, these private lands are stitched together with more than 100,000 acres of BLM land, filling in the gaps and creating a unified management opportunity. BLM, the National Parks, and Fish and Wildlife fall under the Department of the Interior. Forest Service is under Agriculture. M IRR RANCH GROUP BLM. Although it was formally established after World War II, the roots of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) go back to the earliest days of the Republic. Initially, public domain lands were the purview of the Treasury Department. In 1812, an independent agency called the General Land Office was created to oversee the burgeoning portfolio. In 1946, the General Land Office merged with the United States Grazing Service, and the new agency was christened the Bureau of Land Management.

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