- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
In coordination with federal land managers, NWF negotiates with livestock producers to retire livestock grazing allotments on public lands that experience chronic conflict with wildlife, especially wolves and grizzly bears. This market approach recognizes the economic value of livestock grazing permits and fairly compensates producers for retiring their leases. It also addresses the economic imbalance that exists because wildlife conservation interests are not allowed to compete with livestock producers for grazing leases on public lands. This approach establishes an important new national model for resolving conflicts between wildlife and livestock.
Our most important accomplishment of the year was retirement of the 178,000 acre Bacon Creek/Fish Creek grazing allotment on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in northwestern Wyoming. This huge portion of the upper Gros Ventre River drainage contains some of the finest habitat in the West for grizzly bears, wolves, moose and elk. Its proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the Teton Wilderness makes it an integral piece of this core conservation complex.
This area is a stronghold for grizzlies, as researchers have identified more than fifty individual grizzlies using this area since 1978. Conflict with livestock has been substantial: since 1999 more than $1.1 million in damage claims have been filed and agencies have documented 36 dead livestock. Several grizzlies have been moved from the areas as a consequence.
Three wolf packs use this area, and they have been in frequent conflict with livestock. Government control agents have killed two wolves in these allotments.
Finally, the allotments contain more than 50,000 acres of crucial winter range for elk and moose. Many people believe that retirement of these grazing leases will reduce the dependency of elk on supplemental winter feeding in the Gros Ventre area, where the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish currently manages three feed grounds.
The cost of retiring the Bacon Creek/Fish Creek allotment was $450,000, and we met that goal through a combination of donations from private organizations, individuals and foundations. We once again were able to build a diverse group of partners to support this retirement. Key conservation partners included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Vital Ground.
Because wildlife conservation interests are not allowed to compete with livestock producers for grazing leases on public lands, the market system is constrained from finding an appropriate balance between the need for livestock grazing and the need for wildlife. Our approach works because it recognizes the economic value of grazing permits and compensates livestock producers fairly for giving them up.
The National Wildlife Federation's approach of paying ranchers to retire grazing leases where there is chronic conflict between livestock and wildlife provides a market-based solution for resolving these conflicts. To the extent ranchers typically use the payments provided to them by NWF to secure new grazing in an area without wildlife conflicts, this approach provides benefits for both parties.
Conflicts between livestock and wildilfe on public lands have been ongoing for several decades. The tactic favored by most environmental groups has been to try and compel federal agencies to administratively cancel troublesome leases. This approach has generated a great deal of controversy but only a small amount of change.
Using a market approach, over the last five years the National Wildlife Federation has been able to retire 23 grazing allotments in the Yellowstone ecosystem, totaling almost 500,000 acres. This has been accomplished with minimal controversy. We believe this approach begins to establish an important new national model for resolving conflicts between livestock and wildlife.
(Check sent: 6/25/2007)