The Forest Service announced Friday it is raising its fees, by as much as 20 percent, for ranchers who want to graze their livestock in the national forest and grasslands.

The increases are based on a formula that takes into account grazing fees on private land, market prices for livestock and livestock production costs.For this year, the grazing fee in national forests in 15 Western states will be $1.86 per head per month, a 17 percent increase. The fee for grazing in national grasslands in nine Western states is $2.29 a head per month. The rates take effect March 1.

"Grazing fees are going up because the prices farmers and ranchers received for beef cattle increased by 9 percent, and private grazing land lease rates increased in most of the states involved," said F. Dale Robertson, chief of the Forest Service. "Increased costs of livestock production were modest in comparison. These factors play a prominent role in determining grazing fees under the fee formula."