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WildEarth Guardians Wins Appeal of Carson National Forest Grazing AllotmentsForest Service again fails to analyze effects…

May 17, 2005
WildEarth Guardians
In This Release
Santa Fe, NM – Yesterday, WildEarth Guardians received notice from the Forest Service that they won two administrative appeals over the agency’s decisions to allow continued cattle grazing on the Deer Creek and Columbine allotments, in the Questa Ranger District of the Carson national Forest, due to the agencies failure to consider the effects of grazing on wildlife listing under the Endangered Species Act.

After reviewing the record and the appeals, Richard Stahn, the appeal reviewing officer recommended that the decisions be reversed. Mr. Stahn wrote, “A summary ‘No Effect’ statement was made with no rationale as to why the project would have ‘No Effect’ on the Mexican spotted owl, or any of the other listed species potentially occurring in the project area.”

On May 11, Carson Forest Supervisor Martin Chavez, Jr. concurred with the reviewing officer and wrote, “I am directing this inadequacy be corrected and new decisions be issued based on new analyses.”

The threatened and endangered species potentially in the area of the Questa Ranger District include the Mexican spotted owl, bald eagle, Rio Grande silver minnow, Southwestern willow flycatcher, black-footed ferret, whooping crane and interior least tern.

The two appeals were filed on February 22, 2005. They challenged whether the environmental assessments (EAs) for the project, required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), fully and appropriately analyzes the effects of livestock grazing on soil, stream and watershed conditions, wildlife (including threatened and endangered species), and wildlife habitat. They also challenged whether the cumulative effects were considered and whether the proposals were consistent with the Carson Forest Plan and the National Forest Management Act.

“It is good to see that the Forest Service has recognized some of the mistakes it made in these analyses,” said Billy Stern, Grazing Reform Program Coordinator for WildEarth Guardians. “We raised the same points in our public comments, but the Forest Service took no action to improve their analysis. It is sad that it took an appeal to correct these problems. The agency needs to take citizen involvement to heart rather than simply going through the motions because it is required.”