Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Court Nixes Arizona Land Management Suits

The U.S. government is properly managing more than a million acres of public land north of the Grand Canyon, where environmentalists claim off-road vehicles and grazing livestock are destroying natural and cultural treasurers and poisoning endangered California condors with carrion full of lead, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt sided with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in two related lawsuits last week, finding that the agency's 2008 management plans for the Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermillion Cliffs National Monuments conform to federal law. The monuments encompass some 1.3 million acres of lonely, arid sweeps of high-desert plains and towering red-rock cliffs north of the Grand Canyon's north rim, on the Arizona-Utah border. The Wilderness Society, the Center for Biological Resources and other groups claimed in two separate lawsuits that the agency's long-term management strategy for the lands goes against the presidential proclamations that initially protected them. In granting summary judgment to the BLM in both lawsuits, Rosenblatt found that the agency's resource-management plans will adequately protect the lands. He pointed out that the plans close nearly 90,000 acres in Vermillion Cliffs and nearly 300,000 acres in Grand Canyon-Parashant to "motorized and mechanized vehicle use," including some 360 miles of routes that were previously open to such use. Rosenblatt also found that the BLM's management plans for livestock grazing pass muster, as they close some 34,000 acres in Parashant to grazing and "establish new standards and management actions to protect rangeland health."...more

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