Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
U.S. Forest Service faces civil right claims by ranchers in Colorado, N.M.
A coalition of northern New Mexico Hispanic and American Indian ranchers is asking U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to address civil rights violations they say have compromised their traditions and livelihoods. The Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association has sent a letter to Vilsack and a White House senior policy adviser in response to a federal review that shows the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico and Colorado was not complying with several civil rights requirements, including policies aimed at helping people who speak limited English. The review also found the agency was inconsistent in implementing policies and procedures, namely when it came to the termination or suspension of grazing permits. "The issue of access to grazing permits is of vital importance to the minority Hispanic and Native American ranchers in Colorado and New Mexico and has long been a source of conflict with the (Forest Service) over complaints of discriminatory practices," the ranchers told Vilsack in their letter dated Jan. 6. The report states that civil rights training has fallen by the wayside for many employees and the training that does take place is largely ineffective. Also, the agency's anti-discrimination statement was consistently omitted from key documents, including grazing permit applications, and there was no evidence that brochures or websites were offered in any other language than English. Forest Service representatives are supposed to meet with ranchers to discuss annual operating plans. However, the report found that employees prepared the instructions and told the ranchers to "take it or leave it" with little or no discussion. According to the report, ranchers told the reviewers that Forest Service staff uses "Gestapo" intimidation tactics, such as constant threats, suspension of permits, retaliation and discrimination...more