For Immediate Release, August 1, 2013
Contact: Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821, firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Court to Trespass Grazer in Nevada: "Get Your Cattle Off — Now!"
LAS VEGAS— The U.S. District Court of Nevada has issued a ruling that affirms, once again, the right of the federal Bureau of Land Management to remove cattle trespassing in southeastern Nevada’s Gold Butte area to protect desert tortoises, other imperiled species, ancient cultural resources, and the safety of the recreating public. The decision affirms a previous finding by the same court, made in 1998 and later upheld on appeal.
“Gold Butte is a national treasure, and is being considered for designation as a national monument or conservation area,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s high time for the BLM to do its duty and give Gold Butte and its resources the respect and protection they deserve.”
Beginning in 1993, the BLM has been in dispute with grazer Cliven Bundy over his right to graze the Bunkerville Allotment of the Gold Butte area. After the BLM terminated Bundy’s grazing permit for failure to pay fees in 1998, Clark County, as administrator for the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, purchased the grazing rights from the BLM for $375,000 and retired them, in order to fulfill requirements under that plan to protect endangered desert tortoises.
Despite having no legal right to do so, cattle from Bundy’s ranch have grazed throughout the Gold Butte area, competing with tortoises for food, hindering the restoration of extensive wildfires, trampling rare plants, damaging ancient American Indian cultural sites, and threatening the safety of recreationists. Surveys by the BLM have found well over 1,000 cattle — many in easily damaged freshwater springs and riparian areas on public lands managed by the National Park Service and state of Nevada as well as the BLM.
In April 2012, after the BLM inexplicably stopped a roundup of trespassing cattle under the 1998 court ruling, the Center sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue the agency, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Clark County, Nev., under the Endangered Species Act for their failure to protect endangered species according to the terms of a “biological opinion” for the habitat conservation plan. Shortly afterwards, the BLM initiated the case that resulted in this ruling.
“The court has provided the BLM with a clear and undisputed mandate to proceed with what should have occurred over 12 years ago — to protect the rights of the American public by ending illegal grazing that has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars while imperiling the protected desert tortoise. The foot-dragging by the departments of Justice and the Interior has been nothing short of outrageous.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places