Bill giving ranchers more authority to improve Idaho's rangeland advances to Senate - East Idaho News

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Bill giving ranchers more authority to improve Idaho’s rangeland advances to Senate

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Rep. Jerald Raymond, R-Menan, testifies before the Senate Resources & Environment Committee about HB 468. Watch the House and Senate committee hearings in the video above. | Screenshot

IDAHO FALLS — A bill aimed at increasing the authority of local farmers and ranchers to improve range land across the state is heading to the Senate floor soon.

Dubbed the Rangeland Improvement Act, HB 468 gives boards in local grazing districts the ability to prioritize projects in specific areas and direct the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to apply for grants to pay for those projects. Examples of rangeland improvement projects could include water distribution, cross-fencing (fences built on grazing land to divide the property into smaller pastures) or predator and invasive species control.

RELATED | Local legislator wants to increase ranchers’ ability to improve Idaho’s rangeland

Rep. Jerald Raymond, R-Menan, the bill’s sponsor, says this legislation builds upon the Taylor Grazing Act passed by Congress in 1934. The measure established grazing rights for livestock ranchers across the U.S. and gave authority to the federal government to manage it.

Raymond worked closely with the Idaho Cattle Association, the Farm Bureau, Food Producers of Idaho and other organizations in drafting this legislation.

HB 468 passed in the House on Feb. 22 with a vote of 58-9. Many who opposed it, including Rep. Joe Alfieri, R-Coeur d’Alene, Rep. Dale Hawkins, R-Fernwood and Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, have high rankings with the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

It was given a “do pass” recommendation in the Senate Resources & Environment Committee on Monday and will likely be up for vote in the Senate next week.

Raymond is confident the bill will become law.

“It’s a great program for the state,” Raymond tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We either manage this resource, or we watch it burn. I look forward to it being enacted.”

Watch the House and Senate committee hearings for the bill in the video above.

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