Bristlecone Pine, Great Basin National Park, Nevada.

Grazing Permit Retirement in Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park was the setting for one of the best examples of voluntary federal grazing permit buyout. In 1996, under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and with the support of the entire Nevada delegation (two Republicans, two Democrats), Congress amended the law that established Great Basin National Park to allow permittees to donate their grazing permits for allotments inside the park back to the Park Service (16 U.S.C. § 410mm-1(f)(2)). In 1999, three permittees agreed to relinquish their permits for cattle grazing in the park and part of the adjacent Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area in exchange for compensation from a host of conservation foundations, led by the Conservation Fund. Permits were retired on Park Service and related Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. The transaction was supported by the Nevada Cattlemen's Association, the Nevada Commission on Tourism, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A total of 2,429 AUM on 101,000 acres were retired for approximately $2.20 per acre or $90.61 per AUM.

The National Public Lands Grazing Campaign used the Great Basin example among others to model a national voluntary federal grazing permit buyout program. The proposed permit buyout legislation would compensate federal public lands ranchers at $175 per AUM.

Tucson Citizen, Deal ends cattle grazing at Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park, Grazing in the Great Basin: A Connection to the Land

Once livestock were removed from the park, staff and volunteers set about removing interior fencing from the landscape. Bryan Hamilton, "Disappearing Fences," The Midden (newsletter) (autumn 2001). Great Basin National Park. Fences injure wildlife and obstruct wildlife movement.