In 2013, the decisions from the BLM Owyhee Field Office called for most of the permits for the first two groups in the permit renewal process to have as much as a 47% reduction in permitted AUM’s. Others had changes in the season of use that would be impractical to implement. Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association members knew that this approach by BLM to the permit renewals could not go uncontested if ranching was to survive as a viable industry in Owyhee County.
In an effort to bring reason and sound science into the decision making process, Group 1 permittees, the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association, the Idaho Cattle Association, and the Public Lands Council filed appeals and stay requests on the Group 1 allotments to an administrative law judge through the Department of Interior administrative process. Based on an administrative law judge determination that the appeals raise material questions of fact and law, the administrative law judge has already stayed the Group 1 decisions pending a hearing on the appeals. This stay allows the permittees to continue their operations until the appeal is heard. The appeal hearing is a mechanism that can mandate the BLM back to the table to develop workable grazing plans and issue viable decisions.