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Group challenges U.S. Forest Service's decision to permit cattle in Arizona forest

By Jenie Mallari-Torres | Apr 19, 2018

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline) – A nonprofit organization is challenging a federal agency's authorization to permit cattle to graze in a ponderosa pine forest in Arizona.

Neighbors of The Mogollon Rim Inc. filed a complaint on April 11 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against U.S. Forest Service alleging citing the National Forest Management Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and other counts.

According to the complaint, the defendant re-opened grazing in the Tonto National Forest Bar X allotments in 2015 after a portion of the area was closed decades ago.

"After 35 years of non-use, the Forest Service re-opened this area to livestock grazing in 2015 without conducting any environmental analysis or making the required determination that the area has recovered and is capable of supporting the level of grazing being authorized. Despite complaints about damage the cattle caused to resources in 2015, the agency is again authorizing use of this closed pasture in 2018, still with no environmental analysis or capability determination," the suit states.

The plaintiff holds U.S. Forest Service responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to comply with requirements for regulating grazing on national forest lands, failed to determine the capacity of the pasture without damage to other resources, and authorized livestock numbers far greater than that permitted under the term grazing permit.

The plaintiff seeks judgment against the defendant, declaratory and injunctive relief, award of attorney's fees, costs, and litigation expenses, and additional relief as the court deems just. They are represented by Richard A. Dillenburg of Richard A. Dillenburg PC in Tempe, Arizona and Lauren M. Rule of Advocates for the West in Portland, Oregon.

U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona Case number 2:18-cv-01111

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