CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - The Bureau of Land Management has agreed to allow ranchers to graze cattle on 300 square miles of Northern Nevada rangeland with the condition that ranchers remove their livestock should drought conditions worsen.
The BLM says the agreement is valid for a full year. Still, Battle Mountain ranchers voiced their anger towards the BLM through a week long horse-back grass march, ending at the state capitol today.
Several dozen of ranchers and their supporters delivered a petition of about a thousand signatures pony-express style to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, calling for the removal of one specific BLM official.
"The problem we have in the BLM district battle mountain is clearly Doug Furtado,” says Assemblyman Ira Hansen, (R) Sparks. “and that's why there's been a concerted effort to remove him from the position."
Ranchers, supporters and lawmakers believe BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado has over-reached his authority by allegedly intimidating ranching families, who depend on the grass there to feed their cattle.
"Without notice and without hearing, [he’s] reaching out and hurting the ranchers by not allowing them to turn out their cattle on the grass which is 18 inches to two feet tall," says Elko County Commissioner, Grant Gerber.
Gerber says the Argent allotment in Lander County should have been grazed down before fire season, and the tall grass will now pose a wildfire threat to wildlife.
"If he continues with this course, that area will burn. It will burn,” says Gerber.
The BLM says grazing permits have to be reduced during time of drought as less forage is available for livestock and wildlife. This season, the agency reduced permits by 20%.
In a statement-- the BLM says: “Although the drought's impact on ecosystem processes and function is beyond the control [of] BLM staff, the agency will continue to address issues and manage uses with a view toward the long-term health and productivity of public lands.”
A BLM spokeswoman also tells News 4 they will not remove an official based solely on a petition. However, the ranchers and their supporters say they will not quit.
Hansen asserts, "The BLM will respond to the political will of the State of Nevada represented through the Governor,”