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Modoc Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program
Finding cooperative ways to improve the health of public rangelands has been the focus since the 1980s for the BLM and Forest Service offices participating as members of the Modoc Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program in northeast California and far northwest Nevada.
Authorized by the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978, the stewardship program was designed to involve agencies and federal grazing permit holders in developing innovative rangeland management approaches and providing permittee incentives to do so. The Modoc-Washoe group involves the BLM-California Surprise Field Office and the Modoc National Forest's Warner Mountain Ranger District. Other key members are the California and Nevada state wildlife management agencies, grazing permittee associations, environmental interests from California and Nevada and sporting interests from both states. Other member interests including timber, weed management, wild horse and burro management, the livestock industry, and resource conservation districts are represented on the steering committee.
Using its license to experiment, the Modoc-Washoe group has developed approaches that can be applied to BLM and Forest Service grazing permits. A notable example is its grazing fee credit program, in which participating grazing permit holders can apply 50 percent of their federal grazing fee to help fund range improvement projects. The program also works to address management problems on the ground, assigning technical review teams to study issues and propose solutions to the full steering committee, which passes on recommendations to the BLM and Forest Service. The committee works on a full consensus basis, forwarding recommendations only when all steering committee members agree.