Community Agriculture Alliance: Funding opportunity for range improvement projects
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Looking toward the coming growing season, there are many concerns facing agricultural producers, such as changes in administration, fluctuations of agricultural markets and drought.
Though weather is always a concern for agricultural producers, this year’s predicted drought is alarming and will play an important role in hay production, grazing availability, water availability and increased weed concerns, to name a few. Many of these drought concerns cannot be accurately predicted, but producers can plan now to better prepare. The Taylor Grazing Act Range Improvement funds may be available to assist with range improvement projects within Routt County, aiding agricultural producers through drought and into the future.
Range improvements are needed to improve sustainable livestock grazing management, improve watershed conditions or serve a similar purpose improving land stewardship practices and benefiting agricultural producers who are a vital and vibrant part of our rural community. Projects historically considered for TGA Range Improvement Funds include weed control, fencing projects, water development, predator control and livestock handling facilities.
Taylor Grazing Act background
In 1934, Hayden area attorney, homesteader and cattleman Farrington Carpenter became instrumental in the process which changed livestock grazing on public lands in the West from open grazing to a permit-based system of managed grazing. Ferry Carpenter (a Republican) and his good friend Congressman Ed Taylor (a Democrat) initiated legislation that oversaw the mapping of western rangelands, brought cattlemen and sheepmen together and began the process of preventing destructive grazing practices, restoring the rangeland and adding some stability to the economics of western livestock grazing.
As a result of this process, permittees to this day operate within Grazing Districts originally defined in the TGA. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) collects animal unit month (AUM) fees from permittees within these districts who operate livestock on public grazing lands not in the national forest. The AUM fee is calculated based on current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production. A large portion of the collected grazing fees are deposited into the U.S. Treasury and returned to the Range Betterment Fund. A portion of collected fees are also returned to the counties where the fees were generated.
Routt County has allocated these collected funds to the TGA Range Improvement Fund and have appointed the Noxious Weed Advisory Board to review and assist the Routt County Board of Commissioners with the distribution of these funds. Depending on the year, roughly $10,000 is collected annually in Routt County from this process and awarded to residents for approved range improvement projects.
How to apply
Additional information and a downloadable application can be found by visiting the Weed Program page at co.routt.co.us or contacting the Noxious Weed Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-870-5246. Project proposals are due on or before March 15.
Funding is awarded to pre-approved applicants as reimbursement at project completion with supporting receipts and photo documentation. Priority will be given to BLM permittees, but not to the exclusion of other applicants where projects will benefit range management in Routt County.
Tiffany Carlson is supervisor of the Routt County Noxious Weed program.
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