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Protection in "Priority of Use"

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In 1905, Forest Service Officials and representatives from the American National Cattlemans Association (formed of the stockmen who had pre-existing property rights in the "forest reserves") met in Colorado. According to Albert Potter, (appointed grazing expert of the Bureau of Forestry in 1901,) in "Cooperation in Range Management" American National Cattleman's Association Proceedings, (c1913) p.55:

"The main points of agreement, worked out by the department and stock organizations, emphasized that those already grazing in the forest ranges would be protected in their priority of use; that reductions in the number of grazed stock would be imposed only after fair notice; that small owners would have preference over large; that only in rare circumstances would the department seek total exclusion of stock from the forest; and that the policy of use would be maintained whenever it was consistent with intelligent forest management. Finally, some attempt would be made to give stockmen a voice in making the rules and regulations for the management of stock on local ranges through the establishment of forest advisory boards."

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Forest Service "Use Book" of 1905 or "The Use of the National Forests", (subtitled "Regulations and instructions for the use of the National Forest Reserves",) July 1905, p.22 listed three classes of grazing permits; A.) For those who owned adjacent ranch property ("small near-by owners"); B.) For those who owned nonadjacent property and traditionally used the public forest ranges ("all other regular occupants of the reserve range") and C.) For transient herders who could make no claim to local property ownership ("owners of transient stock".)

"In relation of Forest Officers to the public, the administration of Forest Reserves is not for the benefit of the government, but of the people. The revenue derived from them goes, not to the general fund of the United States, but 10% of it directly to the counties in which the reserves are situated, and the other 90% towards maintaining upon the reserve a force of men organized to serve the public interest. This force has two chief duties: to protect the reserves against fire and to assist the people in their use. Forest officers, therefore are servants of the people. They must answer all inquiries fully and cheerfully, and be at least as prompt and courteous as they would be in private business. It is no less their duty to encourage and assist legitimate enterprises. The continued prosperity of agriculture, lumbering, mining, and livestock interests is directly dependent upon a permanent and accessible supply of water and forage. The dominant industry on the land will be considered first, but with as little restriction to minor industries as may be possible. In the long run, where conflicting interests are concerned, the question will be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number whether it be mining, lumbering, or the livestock industry. Every effort will be made to assist the stock owner to a satisfactory distribution of stock on the range. The prime objective is the best permanent good of the livestock industry. The Reserve Officer will see to it that water, wood and forage are used to the benefit of the home builder. It is the home builder, first of all, upon whom depends the best permanent use of lands and resources alike.

"The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to permit grazing to the best permanent good of the livestock industry through proper care and improvement of the grazing lands. Grazing permits will be given preference in the following order; small nearby owners and then persons living in or close to the reserve whose stock have regularly grazed upon the reserve range and are dependent upon its use. The protection of settlers and home builders against unfair competition in the use of the range is a prime requisite. Priority in the occupancy and use of the range and the ownership of improved farming land in or near the reserve will be considered, and preference will be given to those who have continuously used the range for the longest period.

"All the resources of the forest reserves are for use, and this use must be brought about in a thoroughly prompt and business like manner, under such restrictions only as will insure the permanence of these resources. The vital importance of forest reserves to the great industries of the Western States will be largely increased in the near future. The permanence of the resources of the reserve is therefore indispensable to continued prosperity, and the policy of the Forest Service for their protection and use will invariably be this fact...

"The timber, water, pasture, mineral and other resources of the Forest Reserves are for the use of the people. They may be obtained under reasonable conditions without delay. Legitimate improvements and business enterprises are encouraged. The Forest Reserves are open to all persons for all lawful purposes." (Federal Lands "UPDATE", Dec. 1991, pg. 3)

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In the Forest Service "Use Book," (The Use of the National Forest Reserves, July 1905, 1910 edition) it was stated under Regulation 45:

"Whenever any live-stock association whose membership includes a majority of the owners of any class of live stock using National Forest or a portion thereof shall select a committee, an agreement on the part of which shall be binding upon the association, such committee upon application to the district Forester, may be recognized as an advisory board for the association, and shall then be entitled to receive notice of proposed action and have an opportunity to be heard by the local Forest officer in reference to increase or decrease in the number of stock to be allowed for any year, the division of range between the different classes of stock or their owners, or the adoption of special rules to meet local conditions."

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