Grazing permits will be reissued in Canyons of the Ancients

Two long-dormant grazing allotments within Canyons of the Ancients National Monument will be offered up for local cattle ranchers beginning in 2014.

The BLM application process for the Yellow Jacket and Flodine Park grazing leases will begin in spring, said Mike Jensen, a BLM range specialist.

"The permitting process with be in the spring, and we expect cattle to be on the ground by next fall," Jensen told Montezuma County Commissioners.

The allotments have not been permitted for cattle grazing since 2005, Jensen said, explaining that lack of staff for range assessment studies held up the process.

"It has been frustrating because of a lot of staff turnover, but we now have stability there and plan to reissue the permits," monument manager Marietta Eaton said.

COANM recently purchased a private in-holding within the monument, and a portion of that is now part of the grazing allotment. The in-holding, formerly the Wallace Ranch, was purchased for $3.3 million, and totals 4,500 acres.

The Rutherford Ranch, another in-holding within the monument, was purchased in 2011 for $1 million.

The previous permit conditions have been modified with lower cattle numbers to better match range conditions and available forage, Jensen said. Water on the site is limited, and fencing on the allotments will need adjustments and repairs.

The BLM has a cost-share program with permittees for fencing requirements.

"The pastures are in fairly good condition, considering the drought," Jensen said.

The Flodine Park allotment allows for 57 cattle from October to Feb. 28.

The Yellow Jacket allotment allows for 86 cattle between March and May 28, and for 86 cattle between Dec. 7 and Feb. 28.

The commissioners have been critical of the BLM for not renewing the two grazing permits within the monument, and were pleased to see they are to be offered for ranchers again.

"It'll be good to get cattle back out there again," said commissioner Larry Don Suckla. "We have not had much compromise from federal agencies, so it is good that we now have something with this."

Announcements of the upcoming application process and requirements will be published in area newspapers.

"We expect a lot of applications," Jensen said.

The BLM Tres Rios office manages 146 grazing allotments stretching from Bayfield to Norwood.

There are 26 grazing allotments within Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.