For Immediate Release
June 10, 2010
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological
Diversity · (928) 310-6713
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project ·
Mark Salvo, Sagebrush Sea Campaign · (503) 757-4221
Lawsuit Targets Harmful Public Lands Livestock Subsidy
Washington - Today the Center for Biological Diversity,
Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Great Old Broads for
Wilderness, and Oregon Natural Desert Association sued the Departments
of Interior and Agriculture to compel them to respond to a 2005
rulemaking petition that seeks to increase the fee for livestock grazing
across 258 million acres of federal public land.
The federal grazing program is as fiscally irresponsible as it is
ecologically harmful, said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns
director for the Center for Biological Diversity. In responding
to our petition, the government must now choose between correcting and
continuing the subsidized destruction of Americas public land.
The current grazing fee does not recover even the administrative costs
of operating the program, leaving U.S. taxpayers to pay the difference.
The fee also falls short of paying for the environmental problems this
land use causes, and instead enables high levels of livestock grazing
that harm ecosystems, degrade watersheds, and cause species decline. In
2010, the government charges just $1.35 per month to graze one cow and
calf on public lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau
of Land Management, which is the lowest possible rate under the current
"Given the massive budget shortfall our country is facing, we can
no longer afford to subsidize a small group of ranchers to graze public
lands at public expense," said Mark Salvo, director of the Sagebrush
Sea Campaign for WildEarth Guardians.
Although the Administrative Procedures Act requires the government to
respond to rulemaking petitions, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture
have not responded to plaintiffs 2005 petition. Todays lawsuit
seeks that response.
Our public lands are worth far more than cheap forage for private
livestock operations, said Great Anderson, Arizona director of the
Western Watersheds Project. The agencies should take this opportunity
to set an appropriate value for livestock use of these lands, which provide
habitat for plants and animals, clean our air and water, and provide recreational
opportunities for millions of Americans.
The conservation organizations are represented by attorney Marc Fink of
the Center for Biological Diversity and attorney Matt Kenna of Durango,
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