National Geographic : 1994 Feb
A line drawn on the range Hard work, and dirty to boot, livestock running is seldom a passport to wealth for the small rancher. None theless, the 24,000 or so ranchers who graze sheep and cattle on federal lands wield political clout far beyond their numbers. Large corporate operators and wealthy individuals hold per mits to almost half of federal grazing land; one rancher holds allotments covering more than five million acres. Spurred by outcries over degradation of western range, the Clinton Administration has proposed comprehensive grazing reforms. The govern ment would make grazing permits on BLM land contin gent on the user's record of environmental responsibility. Overseeing the permits would be advisory councils no longer dominated by ranchers and open to envi ronmentalists, wildlife man agers, and others. In addition, user fees would increase sub stantially to approach what the government considers a fair value.