Anna Miller, Western Livestock Journal
Utah Forest Service sued for cattle grazing permits
Do we have another Bundy 2.0 case on our hands? Environmental groups seems to think so if a recent lawsuit is any indication.
Western Watersheds Project (WWP) filed litigation against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in the U.S. District Court District of Utah on Nov. 20. The complaint claims USFS has been influenced by “threats made by a handful of scofflaw grazing permittees on Monroe Mountain” to allow “excessive stocking rates, repeated trespass and non-compliance with federal regulations,” according to a released statement.
Monroe Mountain is located in Sevier and Piute counties in southcentral Utah. The area contains greater sage-grouse habitat and other wildlife species and is also leased by USFS for livestock grazing. WWP claims in a 57-page complaint the national forest land has been “overstocked” with livestock, and wildlife populations are suffering as a result.
The lawsuit asserts USFS “continues to authorize grazing at levels that repeatedly lead to over-utilization of forage vegetation and degradation of other forest resources” and alleges the agency uses prescribed burns in an effort to stimulate regrowth as opposed to removing cattle.
“When the Forest Service tried to do the right thing and suspend these livestock grazing permits for multiple willful violations of the terms and conditions, the ranchers responded with threats of violence,” said John Persell, staff attorney with WWP.
The lawsuit further asserts livestock grazing permittees have been “stoked by the anti-government rhetoric of Cliven Bundy and other fringe extremists.”
WWP claims, “USFS has bent and broken its own laws and regulations, and continues to authorize livestock grazing without any reasonable expectation of permit compliance.”
Chain of events
The lawsuit against USFS comes as the result of a WWP member visiting the Kingston, Forshea, and Manning Creek grazing allotments in October 2019. The employee said she witnessed trespassing cattle more than a week after the permitted off-dates, permit and annual operating instructions (AOI) violations, and environmental damage. The damage included over-utilization of forage, unmaintained fences, and degraded natural water features.
WWP said several ranchers were issued notices of non-compliance in 2013 for forage over-utilization, further livestock use after the permitted off date, and pasture rotation schedules not followed.
According to the complaint document, after USFS cited “safety concerns and verbal threats” from the parties following the drafting of 50 percent suspension letters, USFS did not send finalized suspension letters. The document further reads that in 2014, the ranching parties requested the allotments be managed through deferred-rotation instead of rest-rotation, and USFS accepted the requests even though the process was not authorized under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The suit also said the parties did not follow the rotation schedule outlined in the AOIs, and range improvements were not maintained to standard.
The lawsuit claims USFS did not issue letters of non-compliance after these violations, “[d]ue to safety concerns and tensions being high.” Further non-compliance from the permittees followed through 2015 and 2016, and the grazing permits ended Dec. 31, 2016. USFS did not approve new permits but issued temporary grazing permits in June 2017. Additional temporary permits were given to another ranching party as well as the prior parties in May 2018, read the lawsuit.
Non-compliance continued, according to WWP, including livestock without ear tags, livestock on allotments without a permit, incorrect pasture utilization and over-utilization of forage.
Despite continued non-compliance on the three grazing allotments, USFS invited the permittees to a meeting in April 2019 to discuss 2019 permits and AOIs, which the permittees did not attend, according to the complaint.
During a phone call in April, one of the permittees told the forest supervisor that “he would put his cattle out on the Kingston and Manning Creek allotments regardless of permit status” and that he had a gun and a sheriff to back him up, according to USFS records. It was noted that certain permittees participated in the infamous Cliven Bundy conflict in 2014, and a local county commissioner as well as a representative of the state Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office expressed concern that a similar event may follow if grazing was not authorized.
The forest supervisor met with permittees in May 2019, where USFS records show permittees became angry and issued additional threats. Later that month, parties sent back their signed temporary permits with significant handwritten alterations.
In June 2019, permittees told USFS they would be releasing cattle out on allotments regardless of permit status, and would not be putting USFS ear tags on the cows, according to the complaint document.
USFS later sent out temporary grazing permits for the 2019 season to the permittees, the lawsuit claims.
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4 thoughts on “Anti-grazing enviros pressure Forest Service to cancel Utah ranchers’ grazing permits”
Stephen Huls, you truly need to talk to a Mental Health professional. The Conspiracy and Paranoia really are taking a toll on you.
We must stand together. Or we will hang separately.
the issues began. Read ‘Storm over range lands ‘ Wayne Hage. book on the issue. When Beurocrates and Environmentalists (mental folks who lust for control / power for a living) Using Communist, Socialism to Ignore the US Constitution, History. Move in to the state, Take over then Demand you RENT your ancestral liberty / rights to use the lands or be removed, fined, imprisoned, shot killed, and use their allies in the media to smear you as they do it. and if you go to court, well the Federals (empire) Own the courts, ignore any constitutional rights, and can threaten you, beat you in prison, witness tamper and all other such socialist/commie tactics if you dare stand up to their Tyranny. Such is the active Deep Dark empire state in the USSA. If they try their Tyranny, Fear, Threats in these counties… the thousands who live here and our Sheriffs shall STAND and now cower any longer to these Wicked and perverted folks who rule the western lands just like the mafia controls a city, state, or cartels control their lands they conqured as well. Do we live in a free nation? NO, the tyrants control us, and have shown they will bring their military to force you to comply to their demands, even if it destroys your life, liberty, property. Such are the globalists, empire lovers and Anti Constitutionalists in power. they cower and bow to the environmental terror groups, whom they ally with. for they had a saying in the BLM and other agencies in the 1990s. Rancher Free by 91. well they still seek that goal. Bundy / Hammonds / Hage / and hundreds of other victims where and are Right! LaVoy Finicum was murdered by the Obama and Gov Brown Oregon and local judge, sheriff and agencies so they could profit from the Hammond’s lands for uranium One Russian / clinton deal. When will America Stand against tyranny? I guess after enough of us are thrown down, imprisoned, murdered, or worse. when enough are hurt, maybe then finally they will awaken. LaVoy Finicum WARNED these Ranchers and people many were about to stand up, then he was assassinated. and a politician when through and SCARED them all into submission.. Sheep are like that, until you awaken and realize, the wolves have eaten most of you and your next.
Meanwhile, back in the USSR… There are 8 different political parties.
It really to bad the USA govt does not follow Real Land Management Practices.
USE it or lose it…
There’s no such thing as saving land use. Saving land to death destroys the land life support environment.
These saving land to death lawsuits should not even be allowed in court.
The USA govt Can ignore the courts and do the Right Methods of land use this land Management.
It’s really not up to the next sparrow in a black cape that likely knows nothing about land. LoL.
I do know that the USFS management of the National Grasslands is pretty much how land is grazed and managed correctly.
2 bad USFS seems powerless on Truly managing their forest lands.
Good Post, Stephen Hula.