Support for grazing act is as scarce as rainfall

By Cindy Yurth
Navajo Times

TSAILE, Ariz., July 3, 2014

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When he introduced the proposed Rangeland Improvement Act in January, Navajo Nation Agriculture Department Director Leo Watchman predicted it would be "a tough sell."

If the first full-scale public hearing on the act is any indication, it's more like the most reviled piece of legislation since the Little Colorado Water Settlement.

Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday at Diné College, more than 30 people shared their feelings about the act with the Navajo Nation Council's Resources and Development Committee, with more lined up to speak. Only one -- Many Farms Chapter Vice President Charlotte Begaye ó applauded the department's efforts to do something about the Navajo Nation's rapidly depleting rangelands.

Begaye spoke in Navajo about the advancing sand dunes in Windy Valley and livestock crossing busy U.S. 191 in search of forage and water. She said her chapter has been trying to call attention to the problem for years, including a meeting to which it invited representatives of the tribe, the BIA and Arizona Department of Transportation to discuss ways to address the situation.

Grazing permits, with Milton Bluehouse Jr. saying it should be renamed the "Taking Away Grazing Permits from Navajo Tribal Members Act."

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