This Land Was Our Land: BLM’s controversial new grazing rules met with lawsuit

For any of you optimistic enough to hope that new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne might be less eager than his predecessor to allow private industry to control public lands, the latest news doesn’t bode well.

On Wednesday, in the first major policy change under Kempthorne, the Bureau of Land Management announced controversial new grazing rules that were soon met by a lawsuit from Idaho-based conservationist group Western Watersheds Project. Among other things, the rules allow ranchers to share in ownership of range improvements, gives them additional water rights, and reduces public input on decisions affecting public lands.

All told, say some conservation and sportsmen's groups, they represent a blatant handout to the grazing industry that will do widespread harm to fish and wildlife due to overgrazing.