Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Federal Judge - Mouse Sí, Ranchers No

A federal judge has thrown out most of a lawsuit filed by New Mexico ranchers seeking to reopen areas in the Santa Fe and Lincoln national forests that have been closed to cattle grazing in order to protect the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The decision by federal District Court Judge Robert C. Brack leaves in place the Forest Service’s October 2014 closure of about 224 acres in the Jemez Mountains, barring both grazing and recreational activities. The stretches of mouse habitat are along the Rio Cebolla and San Antonio Creek, with 188 acres fenced off to keep cattle and people out. The complicated order by Brack apparently keeps alive for now the ranchers’ claims seeking reopening of a smaller amount of mouse habitat that the Forest Service has blocked off in Otero County, although parties on different sides of the case are still sorting out the order. Blaire Dunn, attorney for the ranching groups challenging the land closures, said the ranchers will likely ask the judge to reconsider the key points in his Nov. 3 ruling. Dunn also said the plaintiffs possibly could still get a permanent injunction against the closures, although a motion for a temporary injunction has been rejected. WildEarth Guardians, a Santa Fe-based environmental group that says the jumping mouse is “the canary in the coal mine” when it comes to assessing the condition of New Mexico streams and rivers, has intervened in the litigation. “It is a relief that the Santa Fe National Forest will continue to protect this little mouse’s grassy habitat as permanent protections are considered,” said Bryan Bird, an ecologist with WildEarth Guardians. “The cattlemen’s lawsuit has no legal basis and is a waste of resources.”...more 


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Anonymous said...

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