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Motor Vehicles on Public Lands

The use of motor vehicles for livestock grazing-related activities on public lands adds to the collateral damage that livestock grazing inflicts. Historically, ranching activities were carried out on horseback, but now motor vehicle use for routine ranching activities is increasingly common, and along with it, a myriad of undesirable consequences to our public lands and wildlife.

Motor vehicles are used to access grazing allotments and associated infrastructure such as stock tanks and fencing, to herd livestock, to haul in equipment, and more.

Some of the impacts of grazing-related motor vehicle use include:

Motor vehicle use for grazing-related activities even threatens public lands that are supposed to be highly protected, such as in designated Wilderness where motorized use is prohibited. In the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness in Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) authorized motorized access for routine livestock management practices, and refused to consider commonplace nonmotorized alternatives. In the Powderhorn Wilderness also in Colorado, BLM proposed developing a foot trail into a road to allow motor vehicle access, authorized the use of a mini-excavator to periodically clean out a stock pond, and permitted the use of Utility Transport Vehicles (UTVs) to drive into the Wilderness with fencing material. BLM provided no analysis of nonmotorized alternatives, but merely rubber-stamped the rancher’s request. And the list of motorized ranching intrusions goes on.