Washington — Livestock owners who graze animals on public lands in the West will have to pay 8.8%more this year, the government said.
Fees charged by the Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department, and Interior's Bureau of Land Management will rise 16 cents per "head month" beginning March 1.
The monthly rate will be $1.97 per animal unit month, compared to $1.81 last year.
One animal unit month is considered to be a month's use of occupancy of a public range by one weaned or adult cow, bull, steer, heifer, horse, burro or mule, or five sheep or goats.
Forest Service Chief F. Dale Robertson said the fee was raised because prices farmers and ranchers receive for beef cattle have increased and because private grazing land-leaserates have risen in the states involved.
The grazing fees are adjusted annually to reflect changes in those and other factors, according to a formula set by Congress.
Robertson said the new fee would apply in 16 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
No fees were announced for 1991 grazing on national grasslands in nine states. The agencysaid those rates probably would be announced next week.
Last year, about 8.1 million head of animals, mostly cattle, grazed on Forest Service land, the agency said. There are more than 10,000 permit holders who pay about $11 million annuallyfor grazing.
The BLM said its grazing collections totaled about $18 million last year from about 18,800 farmers and ranchers.