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Draft Grazing Manual, 12/97

CHAPTER 2 - Range Improvements. [excerpt, figures are not included]

What are range improvements?

Range improvements are authorized physical modifications or treatment which are designed to improve production of forage; change vegetation composition; control patterns of use; provide water; stabilize soil and water conditions; restore, protect, and improve the conditions of the rangeland ecosystems to benefit livestock, wild horses and burros, and fish and wildlife. They include, but are not limited to, structures, treatment projects and use of mechanical devices or modifications achieved through mechanical means.

Is an environmental analysis required for a range improvement?

Yes. Compliance with the NEPA is required (BLM Handbook H-1790-1). The need for and level of environmental analysis is dependent on the proposed project. The decision document following the environmental analysis is considered to be the proposed decision for the purposes of filing a protest (Subpart 4160 of the grazing regulations).

Who pays to construct range improvements?

The BLM, permittees or lessees, other persons, organizations, and other government entities, can individually or collectively fund or contribute labor or materials to the cooperative construction of range improvements. A contribution to partially or completely fund an improvement may enable the BLM to authorize a project that otherwisecould not be built.

Any permittee or lessee may apply for a range improvement permit to install, use, maintain, or modify removable range improvements that are needed to achieve management objectives for the allotment in which the permit or lease is held. The permittee or lessee provides full funding for these kinds of temporary improvements.

Would the BLM ever require me to contribute labor, funds, or materials for range improvement construction?

Yes. The authorized officer may require you to install range improvements on the public lands to meet the terms and conditions of a permit, lease or agreement, or in an allotment with two or more permittees or lessees. You also may be required to maintain or modify, or both, range improvements on the public lands, consistent with the terms or conditions of your permit or lease.

Will my monetary contributions to range improvement construction be documented?

Yes. The BLM documents your contribution of funds, labor, and materials to ensure proper credit in the event that an assignment or removal of range improvements becomes necessary.

Documentation of permittee or lessee costs for construction, installation, modification, or maintenance of removable improvements should be retained to support the determination of reasonable compensation if those improvements are used during the temporarily authorized use of forage by another operator.

The BLM uses a Proffer of Monetary Contribution, Form 4120-9 (Illustration 1), to document contributions of funds. Also, the division of contributed funds, labor and materials are documented by a cooperative range improvement agreement.

Must the BLM authorize all range improvements constructed on public lands?

Yes. The BLM authorizes range improvements by either of two forms: One form is the Cooperative Range Improvement Agreement, Form 4120-6, (Illustration 2), which authorizes the installation, use, maintenance, modification, or combination of these, of range improvements or rangeland developments to achieve management or resource condition objectives. The agreements specify how the costs of labor and materials, or both, are divided between the cooperators and the United States.

The other form is the Range Improvement Permit, Form 4120-7, (Illustration 3), which authorizes a permittee or lessee to install, use, maintain, modify, or a combination of these, removable range mprovements that are needed to achieve management objectives for the allotment in which the permit or lease is held. The permittee or lessee provides full funding for construction, installation, modification, or maintenance.

Can I be required to remove range improvements?

Yes. You may be required to remove unauthorized range improvement projects. You also may be required to remove range improvements which you own on the public lands if the improvements are no longer helping to achieve land use plan or allotment goals and objectives. And, you may be required to remove range improvements that do not meet the standards, design, construction and maintenance criteria established in a permit or cooperative agreement. However, range improvements must not be removed from public land without authorization.

Who may enter into a Cooperative Agreement for a Range Improvement?

The BLM may enter into a cooperative range improvement agreement with any person, organization, or other government entity.

Can I be penalized for failing to comply with the requirements in a Cooperative Range Improvement Agreement or Range Improvement Permit?

Yes. Failure to comply with any of the provisions of 43 CFR 4120.3-2 or with any requirements or stipulations of a specific Cooperative Range Improvement Agreement or Range Improvement Permit may result in civil penalties.

Who holds title to range improvements?

Subject to valid existing rights, the United States holds title to:

(1) permanent range improvement projects on public lands authorized after August 21, 1995; and,
(2) nonstructural range improvements such as seedings, or areas treated with pesticides or herbicides, or prescribed fire, irrespective of the date of authorization.

Permittees or lessees may hold title to authorized removable and temporary range improvements, and to permanent improvements authorized prior to August 21, 1995, by a range improvement permit.

A range improvement permit or cooperative range improvement agreement does not convey any right, title, or interest in any lands or resources held by the United States.

Can the BLM construct range improvements on private or state lands?

Yes, but only if the improvement will help to maintain or improve the health of the adjoining public land and if an easement or right-of-way, using Grant of Easement or Right-of-Way, Form 2130-5, has been obtained from the appropriate landowners. While permissible, this practice should be discouraged.

Does the BLM authorize range improvements on lands that are encumbered or scheduled for disposal?

Normally no. However, if the BLM does construct or apply range improvements on encumbered lands, such as vegetation treatments to enhance watershed function, emergency soil stabilization, or wildlife habitat, a right-of-way should be reserved and recorded by the BLM to ensure protection of the investment of public funds.