New Grazing Leases

grazing land

DNR leased nearly 590,000 acres of grazing land in fiscal year 2014 to produce revenue for public school construction. Photo: DNR

Do you have a State grazing lease expiring soon, or are you hoping to acquire a new grazing lease? If so, you should know that our grazing leases have undergone significant changes this year. These changes are meant to create a clearer lease document as well as encourage interaction between lessees and land managers. Our lessees are one of our greatest resources for understanding what happens on the ground, and we want to hear from you.

Perhaps the most notable change is the inclusion of a specific grazing management plan for the entire lease term, typically 10 years. Our land managers work with lessees to create these long-term plans so we meet the lessee’s economic needs, while ensuring that sustainable grazing practices are adhered to. These plans typically prescribe specific on- and off- dates and the maximum number of animals on the lease.

Because we understand it can be difficult for lesees to always anticipate changes to their grazing operations, or future climactic variations such as drought, the new lease also allows for flexibility in changing grazing dates and number of animals. With a simple telephone call or email to your land manager, we can accommodate most changes to your grazing plan provided that any changes allow us to continue maintaining rangeland sustainability and ecosystem health.

Another notable change involves cooperative monitoring and record keeping. This is as simple as taking a photo twice a year — at the on- and off- dates — from the photo monitoring post that your land manager installed on the lease. The photos are then submitted along with a record of the year’s grazing activities. The new lease format includes detailed photo monitoring directions, a sample photo for replication, a map with the photo monitoring post location, and the form used for record keeping. The photos and record can then be submitted through the mail or by email.

This is just a sampling of the more significant changes to the grazing lease. If you have a grazing lease that is expiring or are interested in one of our upcoming public auctions, and have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Emma Barnett, DNR rangeland manager, at (509) 237-1571 or by email at emma.barnett@dnr.wa.gov.

Again, lessees are one of our greatest resources, and we look forward to hearing from you.

by Emma Barnett, DNR Rangeland Manager