By MARTIN GRIFFITH
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Federal land managers have announced the federal grazing fee will stay at the minimum allowable level for a seventh straight year, rekindling a debate between conservationists and ranchers over the issue.
Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials last month said the fee of $1.35 per animal unit month will remain in effect this year for ranchers on public lands in 16 Western states.
Katie Fite of the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project says the fee is unrealistically low because it's set by an outdated formula that allows ranchers to pay far less than they would for grazing on private land.
But Nevada Cattlemen's Association President J.J. Goicoechea says ranchers play an important role in rural counties, and are already struggling because of drought and wildfires across the West.
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