Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Federal lawsuit targeting Forest Service alleges bias against Hispanic ranchers

A group of ranchers and one county said Monday that they are suing the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to limit grazing on historic land grant areas in northern New Mexico. The group of Hispanic ranchers and Rio Arriba County officials contend the agency is trying to push them from land that has been ranched by their families for centuries. They say at stake is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to fire wood. "Without the ability to access and utilize natural resources, our communities are drying up. We're not economically sustainable. We're losing our customs and our culture," said David Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association. The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision by El Rito District Ranger Diana Trujillo to cut grazing by nearly one-fifth on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments, which are part of an area recognized by the federal government for special treatment aimed at benefiting land grant heirs...more

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