Since 1968, the Public Lands Council (PLC) has actively represented the cattle and sheep producers who hold public lands grazing permits. The PLC advocates for these western ranchers who preserve our nation’s natural resources while providing vital food and fiber to the nation and the world.

Public land ranching is essential to independent, family businesses that contribute to the economic and social sustainability of America’s rural communities. Today, these ranchers are widely recognized for their work to protect the environment in which they live and operate – safeguarding open spaces, maintaining water sources and sustaining plant and wildlife populations.

Today, approximately 22,000 ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of private land and hold grazing permits on more than 250 million acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Nearly 40% of western cattle herd and about 50% of the nation’s sheep herd spend time on public lands.

The USFS asserts that 6,000 acres of open space are lost in the U.S. each day. A healthy ranching industry is a sure safeguard against the loss of open space that threatens the character of the American west.

Public land ranchers invest their time, their own money and their energy maintaining the federal lands they graze upon.

Ranchers and their families not only live and work on the range, they act as stewards of the land through efforts including:

  • Preserving clean water sources
  • Controlling invasive plants and non-native grasses
  • Protecting the habitat for endangered species
  • Maintaining firebreaks to actively prevent forest & range fires and act as first response when a fire occurs
  • The Sage Grouse Initiative – a partnership of ranchers, state and federal agencies, universities, nonprofit groups, and businesses that work together toward the goal of wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching

Public lands grazing is the economic backbone of countless rural communities within 11 western states. The work of America’s ranchers keep our nation fed, clothed and healthy.

OCA’s PLC Committee

Chair: Matt McElligot

This committee seeks to carry out the intent of policy with regards to public lands-centered issues. This committee is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring a balance between environmental and economic concerns in public land decisions. This committee functions with the National Public Lands Council.

This committee, with the cooperation and assistance of OCA staff, is in charge of generating its own funds through a direct assessment of public lands permittees, and any other revenue-generating activities the committee sees fit. The committee funds are to be accounted for separately and dispersed at the discretion of individuals currently sitting as delegates to the National Public Lands Council. All interest generated by funds in this account is to be placed in the OCA general account.

Federal Lands Industry Snapshot 2021

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