Ore. senators seek emergency grazing rights

Want extension on federal land, citing 'dire' situation

WASHINGTON - Faced with another year of drought conditions in Southeastern and South-Central Oregon, Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley asked the Department of Agriculture Wednesday to extend emergency cattle grazing rights on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land.

"Given the severity of the drought and the disastrous conditions faced by these Oregon farmers and ranchers, we ask that you expeditiously consider extending emergency grazing opportunities on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land, including land that might otherwise be incorporated in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)," the senators wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

"The situation facing these counties is dire, and requires bringing all available solutions to the table," they added.

Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur counties, which are still recovering from last year's record drought-fueled fire season, have already been declared drought disaster counties by the USDA.

Four massive fires in the region in 2012 have had a severe impact on already burdened feed, forage, and water resources in southeastern and south central part of the state, prompting the request from the senators.

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