Delayed Forest Service biological assessments are preventing some Grant County ranchers from turning out their cattle on public lands.
Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton expressed frustration and dismay at the issue and said local grazing permit holders were seriously affected. Britton said turnout dates are typically May 15, June 1 and June 15.
Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin said ranchers were typically able to turn out their cattle about the middle of June. He said some ranchers had already been able to turn out their cattle and others would be able to at the beginning of July. In the interim, ranchers had been grazing their cattle on private lands or other pastures, he said.
Beverlin said the assessments affect a majority of ranchers in the community.
The biological assessments are consultations with the National Marine Fisheries for steelhead and United States Fish and Wildlife Service for bull trout.
Grant County Stock Growers Association President Alec Oliver estimated some ranchers missed out on roughly 20-30 percent of summer grazing on their alloted land. He said they had compensated by turning out onto fall pastures and feeding cattle hay typically used later in the season.
Oliver said they were fortunate it was a good year for grass, but that ranchers had still taken a hit.