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Conservation groups sue Bureau of Land Management over its grazing practices

The Bureau of Land Management oversees more than 245 million acres of land, most of it in the western United States.

Conservationists frequently criticize the agency for its grazing policies, and two of them have filed suit.

The Western Watersheds Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility say the law requires the BLM to conduct an environmental assessment before it issues a grazing permit.

They say the agency frequently sidesteps that requirement, and the problem has gotten worse in the last decade.

Josh Osher of Western Watersheds says that range health has declined because of overgrazing.

"We’re not blaming this on the Biden administration or its BLM," Osher said. "It’s a long-standing problem with the agency and with the way that public lands have been managed. We think this is a great opportunity for this administration to step up to the plate and really take a shot at fixing the problem."

He says the problem is even worse in national monuments and environmentally sensitive areas.

"And it’s worse on the most sensitive lands. So the data that we uncovered indicates that the situation is worse on national monuments, in wilderness areas, in sagebrush habitat, on bighorn sheep habitat," he said.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.