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Grazing Lands Forum 2007

Field of lupine

A Grazing Lands Forum was coordinated and sponsored by the Washington Native Plant Society in Yakima on September 26, 2007. The forum was held in conjunction with the Society for Ecological Restoration NW and the Society for Wetland Scientists (PNW) Annual Conference. Because WNPS sponsored a number of sessions on shrub steppe during this conference we thought it appropriate and important to also address livestock grazing on public lands by organizing and inviting panelists to a forum on the subject.

The history of permitting grazing on state lands and the science behind this practice was explored, as well as recent state policy with respect to grazing. Panelists discussed the potential impacts and benefits of grazing, and how wildlife and the native flora may be affected. The importance to livestock ranchers of gaining access to these lands also received attention.

Permitting grazing on public lands in Washington has a long history and includes both federal and state owned lands. We didn't think it was realistic to try and have panelists for all the federal and state agencies who lease or permit grazing on public lands in Washington. So we invited just Washington State Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to tell us a little bit more about their programs and policies for grazing state lands under their responsibility. Within the time allotted, we hoped to explore some of the history and scope, of leasing and permits and the scientific and other factors that agencies consider in the decision making  process.

We also invited other panelists in the area of range ecology, plant ecology and conservation to discuss the potential impacts and benefits of grazing, and how wildlife and the native flora may be affected. And we were pleased to have Jack Field from the Washington Cattlemen’s Association who provided perspectives on the importance of public lands grazing to Washington cattlemen.

Panelists who participated included Rocky Beach, Wildlife Diversity Division Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Milt Johnson, Assistant Regional Manager for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Jack Field, Executive Vice-President for the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, George Wooten, Botanist and Conservation Associate with Conservation Northwest, Michael Martin, Conservation Chair for the Yakima Audubon Society, Andy Stepniewski also with the Yakima Audubon Society and Kevin Guinn, Area Resource Conservationist with USDA-NRCS in Ephrata.

The forum was an opportunity to exchange information about grazing on state lands in Washington. Our goal was to provide a balanced discussion to inform natural resource professionals and the public about these topics. The forum was open to conference participants and the general public.  We were particularly pleased by an attendance of well over 100 people and a "standing room only" audience.

Panelists set the tone for a productive evening by preparing excellent presentations and by engaging in thoughtful and forthright interaction with each other and with the audience. Audience interest was high and questions lasted for well over an hour following the presentations.

Grazing Lands Forum transcript provided by Michael Marsh.

Updated: March 8, 2015
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