Thursday, April 08, 2010

Judge hears grazing arguments

How to gauge harm to threatened steelhead was a central question in a three-way courtroom battle last week between ranchers, environmentalists and the federal government. U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty heard arguments in the case Tuesday, March 30, in Portland. The debate stems from a legal challenge against cattle grazing in Eastern Oregon's Malheur National Forest. An environmental group, the Oregon Natural Desert Association, claims the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act by permitting grazing to degrade steelhead habitat in the national forest. A key measure of cattle grazing's impact on steelhead is bank alteration, which is basically the percentage of the streambank that's altered by hoof prints. Ranchers on 13 allotments in the forest are expected to keep bank alteration below 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on the area, as part of the federal requirements that allow grazing...more

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