Paonia rancher Mark Roeber, chairman of the Federal Lands Committee of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and congressional leadership, regarding proposed changes to public land policies in western Colorado. The trip is part of the annual meeting of the Public Lands Council.
Roeber and Robbie Baird-LeValley, immediate past president of Colorado Cattlemen's Association, both from Delta County, were part of the Colorado delegation.
Secretary Salazar and Roeber discussed the expansion of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and wild life refuge area in the San Luis Valley. Roeber and the delegation were concerned that the federal government might use eminent domain to seize private property for the expansion. Secretary Salazar assured Roeber the Interior Department was encouraging conservation easements.
Roeber and Secretary Salazar also discussed the re-introduction of the bison into Colorado. Roeber said, "I am against the re-introduction, as there is a real concern over brucellosis being transmitted from bison to cattle." Brucellosis, or Bang's disease, causes cows to have miscarriages, low milk production, and even infertility when infected. The disease is difficult to detect and even more difficult to prevent.
"The bison herd in Yellowstone has caused area ranchers frustration when the bison wander onto private lands," Roeber explained. "The bison are protected, so if they wander onto a rancher's land, they must be herded back."
During the same visit to Washington, D.C., Roeber met with Colorado's U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, along with Congressman Scott Tipton. Roeber was encouraging our congressional delegation to persuade the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to adopt the Colorado Roadless Rule, as opposed to the Clinton Roadless Rule.
The Colorado plan calls for assessing unique environmental and economic decisions on a case-by-case basis and allowing temporary access to parts of the national forest.
Vilsack announced on May 2 that the Colorado Roadless Rule would be the preferred alternative.
Congressman Tipton is working with Roeber, and other farmers and ranchers in Colorado's Third Congressional District, to craft legislation that will exempt family farms and ranches from the estate tax, as long as the descendants keep the property in agriculture. Currently, the tax is levied against all estates in excess of $5 million. Under current law, if the heirs can't afford the 35 percent inheritance tax, then the family farm or ranch is sold to pay off the tax debt.
Roeber said, "This was a successful trip and a unique opportunity for a rancher from Delta County to be able to express his concerns, as well as those of other western Colorado ranchers, to Secretary Salazar and members of congress." This is Roeber's twelfth trip, in 20 years, to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators advocating for Colorado agriculture with an emphasis on public lands grazing.blog comments powered by Disqus