Approved by WPST on December 1, 2007;
Recirculated on December 5, 2007 for further comment;
posted to CGC+ and Clubhouse on March 23, 2008 for 4-week comment period.
This guideline would be appended to the Club’s existing Grazing Policy, at http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/conservation/grazing.asp
Grazing Policy point (2) refers to establishing wild native grazers on the federal public lands. The policy does not endorse the farming or ranching of species such as elk or deer that were once wild species ranging across North America.
The goal of Grazing Policy point (3) of maximizing restoration of native plant and animal communities includes minimizing non-native and invasive species.
The policy states “Local Sierra Club entities are urged to advocate whatever incremental improvements … seem most appropriate.” Locally supported legislation or advocacy strategies with national implications should be reviewed by the appropriate Sierra Club committee(s) to ensure they do not conflict with this or other policies.
The policy states that not all “legislation and/or administrative actions” supported by the Sierra Club “that primarily address non-grazing issues” must advance the goals of this grazing policy. This does not mean that legislation that advances or further entrenches uses that harm landscapes or biological communities while supporting a single desired goal or policy is automatically acceptable.
Legislation and/or administrative actions that involve multiple facets of land use must be closely examined to be sure that the legislation or action clearly provides a net benefit to the environment. The example given of wilderness bills is one that reflects an earlier compromise that the Sierra Club accepted when the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. But even this example would not mean any and all wilderness acts that betray the intricacies of the web of life can be supported by the Sierra Club.
Issues related to grazing are intricate and complex. These issues are also not generally known or understood by the public or even among Sierra Club members. Guidance should be sought from the Sierra Club National Grazing Committee for an evaluation of the probable results of legislation. Each legislative and administrative action should be reviewed within the context of all Sierra Club policies and positions. Evaluation and advice should be sought from all appropriate committees.
In strategy point (c), the “substantial progress towards established ecological and environmental quality goals” is a measurable progress that is verified in the monitoring and administrative record of the permit or lease.
In strategy point (d), the emphasis should again be on measurable “progress.” Where there is no measured progress or monitoring to indicate progress towards “enforce[ing] strict water quality standards for all streams on public grazing allotments” the allotment should be terminated.
The policy prioritizes ending grazing where it “is causing degradation of habitat necessary for threatened, endangered or sensitive native plant and animal species.” Grazing must be managed in a manner that retains the natural patterns of distribution and abundance of all native plants and animals.
The policy also prioritizes ending grazing where it “is causing significant degradation of water quality.” Degradation of water quality directly affects the health of riparian systems, and vice versa. The highest quality water comes from healthy riparian systems.
Finally, while the policy does not expressly discuss this issue, one priority for action would include federal public lands where grazing has altered the frequency and outcome of fires. This idea is embodied in the frequent reference to the degradation of “habitat,” “water quality,” and the restoration of native plants and animals.