More than 6,000 requests for permit renewals still languish

June 23, 2004
12:00 AM
Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici today urged the Forest Service to commit more resources to processing its vast backlog of grazing permits renewals. During a public lands subcommittee hearing today, Domenici noted that the agency has made strong progress in reducing the backlog of permits in Region Three, the Southwest. However, nationwide, the Forest Service has still not processed more than 6,000 grazing permits, some of them accumulated before 1995. A Forest Service representative told the subcommittee today that the Forest Service is processing grazing permits at a current rate of 368 per year. At the current rate, it will take the Forest Service 17 years to address its current backlog. By contrast, the BLM has reduced its own grazing permit backlog by 85 percent in the last four years. Of the approximately 12,041 BLM permits that have expired in the past four years, nearly 10,234 of them have been renewed. The BLM is on track to wipe out its backlog by 2009. Domenici’s statement: “I want to again congratulate the BLM on its swift progress. The agency’s results are impressive. I am pleased to see that the BLM is on target to eliminate its backlog in five years. “However, I remain concerned about the performance of the Forest Service. I am pleased with the excellent work the agency has done to address the permit backlog in the Southwest. However, nationwide, the Forest Service backlog is still alarmingly large. The agency doesn’t appear to have a plan in place for managing this problem. This committee has increased Forest Service funding and sought to free it from unnecessary congressional mandates. It’s time the Forest Service show us some results. Next year, I hope for results more impressive than what I’ve seen this year.”