The greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a candidate species for listing as an endangered species. Proactive policies and conservation measures that have been proposed to protect the species would potentially alter grazing policies on federal lands to include reductions in allowed grazing levels and with adjustments in seasonal grazing use of federal permits, particularly during the spring and fall months. In this paper we use profit-maximizing models developed for Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming to estimate the economic value of public land forage to ranches that are highly dependent on public lands for seasonal grazing capacity. Optimal (profit maximizing) adjustments to reductions in allowed grazing uses of BLM permits were to substitute alternative sources of forage when possible and to reduce herd sizes. As would be expected, the less substitute forages that were available in the models and the higher the dependency on public land grazing in the current situation, the higher the estimated economic impact of changing BLM grazing capacities and seasonal forage uses. Spring BLM forage was found to have the highest annual economic value, ranging from about $15/AUM in the Wyoming ranch model to $50/AUM in the Oregon ranch model. Capitalized into a grazing permit value that reflects the capitalized contributions of the grazing permit to profit over a 40-year production period, the economic value of the BLM grazing permit ranged from about $140/AUM to over $600/AUM. Cash flow restrictions could not be met if all grazing on the BLM permit were eliminated. The highly-dependent public land ranches considered in the analysis would then be forced to reduce herd sizes to a level that would no longer be economically viable.
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