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Interior Opposing Leasing of Grazing Rights

March 12, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Interior Department on Monday proposed to prohibit the leasing of grazing rights by holders of its permits to run livestock on public land.

Until last October, holders of grazing permits for land managed by the Bureau of Land Management were allowed to lease their rights to others. Congress then required the bureau to recapture for the government through fines whatever profits permit holders made by leasing, if any, after October.

With grazing rights to private and military land typically running at $6 to $8 per cow-calf pair for a month, some ranchers found they could profit by leasing out permits for which they paid the government $1.37 under a congressionally set formula.

The National Forest Service, which also leases land for grazing, has not allowed permit holders to lease their rights to others.

Gil Esquerdo, spokesman for the bureau, said he did not know how much money ranchers made by leasing their permits. The bureau said last year that 688 ranchers had leased their permits in 1983.

The bureau said it would accept public comment on its proposal until May 15.

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