Dear Mr. Furtado,

I write to you as a concerned citizen and member of the interested public to ask that you reopen the Argenta Allotment to grazing immediately.

Reopening the allotment immediately will help the BLM to achieve its stated objectives of promoting "healthy sustainable rangeland ecosystems" while providing "for the sustainability of the western livestock industry and communities that are dependent upon productive, healthy public rangelands" (43 CFR §4100.0-2).

I can appreciate that the multiple-use mission of the BLM in managing our public lands is a balancing act, and not an easy one at that. But opening the Mt. Lewis area this season to its historic grazing use will actually help to accomplish the balance we all desire. Here are three reasons to open it now:

First, on a recent personal visit to the range I observed vigorous growth of vegetation. Winter snows and early spring rains this year have contributed to robust forage production. There is every indication of a healthy rangeland capable of sustaining normal grazing. See for yourself: a personal inspection by you will confirm the good health and vigor of the range.

Second, the accumulated grass on the closed allotment will expose the rangeland to the serious danger of severely destructive wildfires. That is irresponsible and will cause incalculable harm to the ecosystem that you and the citizens of this community all want to preserve. Grazing off this fuel load is effective protection against such catastrophic fire danger (see Diamond, et al., International Journal of Wildland Fire 2009, 18, 944-950).

Third, consider the human element. It is a stated aim of the BLM to administer the public lands in a way that provides for "livestock-based economic opportunities" while "contributing to our social fabric and identity, and preserving the character of the rural West." Our local ranchers are unquestionably a substantial part of the social fabric and identity of this community. The closure of the Argenta Allotment will shred that fabric as it will financially cripple several ranching operations (those run by the extended Tomera family). Surely the bankrupting of a family that has an honorable history of responsible ranching in this community cannot be consistent with the Bureau's goals!

Mr. Furtado, open the Argenta Allotment to grazing now! Do what is right for the community of Battle Mountain, what is right for the ranchers whose livelihood and way of life depend on access to the land, and what is right for the land and wildlife that will only be harmed by the fires that will result from the ungrazed vegetation. Do it before it is too late to do any good.

Alan Dueck is a resident of Battle Mountain
The following was an open letter written to BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado by concerned Battle Mountain citizen Alan Dueck.