Subject: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT #69
SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #69
SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
silver city, tucson, phoenix, san diego
1. INVESTIGATION OF ILLEGAL GRAZING ON SAN PEDRO RIVER SOUGHT-
NATIVE AMERICAN SITES AT RISK
2. SCIENTIFIC STUDY LINKS FOREST DEGRADATION TO OVERGRAZING
3. SUIT FILED TO ALLOW RANGER TO APPEAL TIMBER SALE
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INVESTIGATION OF ILLEGAL GRAZING ON SAN PEDRO RIVER SOUGHT-
NATIVE AMERICAN SITES AT RISK
The Southwest Center of Biological Diversity has requested that the
U.S. Attorney investigate violations of the Archaeological Resources
Protection Act, Antiquities Act, and American Indian Religious
Freedom Act by the BLM in allowing illegal grazing on the San
Pedro River National Riparian Conservation Area (NRCA).
The San Pedro is the Nation's first congressionally designated
National Riparian Conservation Areas. Cattle grazing, mining, and
ORVs were banned from 40 miles of the river in 1989. Illegal cattle
grazing on the river has been constant problem, however, threatening
300 known and over 1,000 expected Native American sites belonging
to the Mogollon, Babocomari, and Sobaipuri people. The Southwest
Center has documented trampling and erosion of sites dating back
11,500 years. Also at risk are five world class wooly mammoth sites
including hunting camps and butchering areas.
SCIENTIFIC STUDY LINKS FOREST DEGRADATION TO OVERGRAZING
An article published in April, 1997 in Conservation Biology, links
overgrazing to tree crowding in Western forests, especially ponderosa
pine. In a review of scientific literature dating back to the 1920's, Dr.
Joy Belsky of the Oregon Natural Desert Association shows that by
removing vigorous native grasses, cattle shifted the competitive
advantage from grass to trees, causing an explosion in the number of
pine trees in western forests. Since grass was the primary vector for
frequent, cool burning fires in pre-settlement forests, overgrazing also
drastically reduced the number of fires. Numerous studies show the
frequency of fires dropping off dramatically when cattle were
introduced, long before active fire suppression. Without fire, the
unnaturally dense forests lacked any natural pruning mechanism.
The study questions the widely accepted view that active fire suppression
is the primary cause of overstocking in western forests. It
shows that ungrazed forests with near total fire suppression for 100
years did not develop pine thickets, while paired grazed forests did.
Several examples are given of forests which returned to nearer-to- normal
fire patterns and tree densities upon decrease and/or removal
For a copy of the study contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1995, the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon
Natural Resources Council and fifty other environmental groups sent
a letter to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service citing these studies, and
requesting an EIS on the impact of grazing on forest ecosystems in the
11 western states. The Forest Service did not respond.
For a copy of the letter, see the resources section of our homepage:
The Southwest Center and ONDA are preparing an Administrative
Procedures Act Petition to more forcefully request that the Forest
Service review the impacts of overgrazing on western forests. To sign
on, send email to: <email@example.com>
SUIT FILED TO ALLOW RANGER TO APPEAL TIMBER SALE (from GREENWIRE)
A US Forest Service employee and [Forest Service Employees for
Environmental Ethics] on 4/17 sued the agency in federal court in a
challenge to the USFS's policy that prohibits employees from filing
"citizen" appeals of agency actions.
The USFS suspended biologist Mary Dalton for 30 days and
reassigned her after she filed a formal administrative appeal
challenging an agency decision to sell timber from the Tongass
National Forest in Alaska. Dalton had been "surprised" that the
agency's environmental impact statement omitted most of her research
concerning deer and bear habitat, which she said would be harmed by
the proposed logging.
In a letter to Dalton, the USFS's Phil Janik said "employees may not
participate as appellants or interested parties" in USFS decisions. The
agency next eliminated her position and reassigned her to fight forest
fires in Arizona.
Andy Stahl, a lawyer for Eugene, OR-based Assn. of Forest Service
Employees for Environmental Ethics, which filed suit with Dalton,
said the court challenge is the first of its kind. Stahl: "They really
hammered her. Most Forest Service employees understand that the
agency shoots its messengers" (Scott Sonner, AP/S.F.
CHRONICLE/EXAMINER online, 4/20).
Kieran Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.733.1391 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.733.1404 fax
http://www.envirolink.org/orgs/sw-center pob 17839, tucson, az 85731