Federal and state laws and regulations intersect when discussing grazing rights in Nevada, yet the federal government is the bigger player when it comes to land rights. The federal government owns and administers 85% of Nevada’s land area. Thus the federal level has a large influence on states and local resources and laws.
The federal land in Nevada that is used for agriculture is predominantly overlooked by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States department of the Interior (DOI), and by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). These parties perform periodic assessments to decide how much livestock can grazed on any one range at any time. These assessments look to see if grazing is at its optimum level while also considering plant diversity, wildlife, and recreation.
Ranchers are required to lease or obtain permits in order to graze on federal land. Additionally, they must pay a fee that is determined by the number and type of livestock they intend to graze and the length of time using the public land. Until 1994, Nevada grazing regulations remained fairly unchanged. In 1994, the DOI began revising grazing regulations, referred to as “Rangeland Reform ’94,” which involved “grazing preference, ownership of range improvements, and mandatory qualifications for permit applicants (2).” Many saw these new regulations as a way to limit grazing on public lands.