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Raising Land-Grazing Fees

Regarding the article "Environmentalists, Lawmakers Line Up Legislative Wish Lists," Feb. 4: We disagree with the proposal to raise grazing fees. The notion that federal-land lease holders are getting a sweet deal from the Bureau of Land Management ignores the reality of ranching.

Historically and geographically the West is a patchwork of state, federal, and privately owned lands. As such, access to federal land is an economic necessity in the West. Grazing, recreation, logging, and mineral exploration on federal lands are all constructed under a century-old, federally mandated principle of balanced "multiple use," which takes into consideration pro-development and pro-conservation goals.

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Ranchers strive to promote economy and environment in their work. Professional range managers agree that the Western range benefits from the grazing of livestock; it promotes plant vigor and diversity by aerating the soil and scattering seeds. The Bureau of Land Management and the Society for Range Management each report that federal rangelands are in better condition now than at any time this century. Livestock production benefits the environment and economy of our nation. The public/private partnership

between the government and ranchers on federal lands is fair; it sustains wildlife and ensures that the West will remain open and productive. Joe Etchart, Washington, Public Lands Council Lands in question

The editorial "Hopi-Navajo Standoff," Feb. 18, remarks that the Navajo and the Hopi Indians deserve better. I agree completely, but the remainder of this country also deserves better. Lands in question are under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service. Their multiple-use plan places public lands for recreational, economical, and environmental service. They belong to all of us. Overriding local and national interests is not the democratic way. Betty Dickinson Kent, Rimrock, Ariz.

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