Friday, January 27, 2012

Arizona: Forest Service grazing plan deemed illegal

As so many times before, a federal court has overturned a U.S. Forest Service grazing permit because federal land managers violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The court ruling at least temporarily blocks cattle grazing on 42,000 acres in the Fossil Creek watershed on the Coconino National Forest in central Arizona. The drainage is a stronghold for threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs. Download a copy of the ruling here. The Forest Service has made great efforts to help with the recovery of the frogs elsewhere in Arizona.  The permit holder, J.P. Morgan-Chase & Co., which maintains interests in the historic Ward Ranch of Rimrock, Ariz., reintroduced about 290 cows in September 2009. The court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately consider the potential effects of cattle grazing on the threatened species when it issued a “biological opinion” authorizing the grazing plan. The court also ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately quantify the amount of incidental “take,” or harm, to the leopard frog, and failed to analyze the effect of the approved plan on the frog’s chances of recovery — all violations of the Endangered Species Act. “The court’s ruling is significant because it will help protect the last known population of Chiricahua leopard frogs on the Red Rock Ranger District,” said Todd Tucci, a senior attorney at Advocates for the West who argued the case on behalf of the Center. The court also ruled that the Forest Service violated NEPA by using inaccurate information to assess grazing impacts. Even though the Forest Service documented unsatisfactory, impaired or inherently unstable soil conditions across 96 percent of the allotment, rangers authorized the grazing...more

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you have ever been in the bottom of Fossil Creek in "Frog" habitat then you will know that livestock grazing can not now and will never threaten the leopard frog or any other from. The thousands of recreationers who swarmed to Fossil Creek recently are the real threat to any living creature both plant and animal in this locality.