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Environmental Groups Oppose Grazing Decision on the Santa Fe National Forest (San Diego Range Project)

WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity today appealed a decision on the Santa Fe National Forest which would permit continued livestock grazing in fragile wetland areas and in areas with outstanding archeological resources

Santa Fe, NM - June 28. WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity today appealed a decision on the Santa Fe National Forest which would permit continued livestock grazing in fragile wetland areas and in areas with outstanding archeological resources. The Decision Notice for the San Diego Range Project failed to adequately protect areas within the forest that provide habitat for the bald eagle, the Mexican spotted owl, the northern goshawk, the western yellow-billed cuckoo, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the Rio Grande chub, and a host of other migratory and resident wildlife species.

“We urged the forest to consider closing riparian areas to cattle, offering them time to recover from historical abuse,” said Greta Anderson, Grazing Reform Program Coordinator at the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. “The Forest knows that the cattle adversely impact wetland areas and the sensitive species that depend on them. This decision neglects the facts.”

The allotment contains a large number of archeological resources, including ancestral Jemez Pueblo sites, but the Forest Service refused to protect all but a small portion of the known artifacts. Of the 1900 known sites, only 220 are afforded any protection from the impacts of livestock grazing, and only 4 of 21 sites on the National Register of Historic Places will be in pastures closed to grazing. The Forest’s solution to livestock impacts on these irreplaceable cultural sites: to pile slash on top of them.

“There is no evidence that brush piles will protect these sites, and even if they do initially reduce the potential for damage, the Forest Service does not have the resources to monitor and maintain them. Brush piles will just create an unsightly mess for visitors of these sites,” said Billy Stern, Grazing Reform Coordinator for WildEarth Guardians.

The decision violates numerous federal rules and regulations including the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.--------

WildEarth Guardians is a non-profit conservation group that believes public lands should be managed primarily for the protection of fish and wildlife. The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation group working to protect endangered species and their habitat.

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