WWP wins a stay of grazing decision on Agua Fria National Monument

Just above the northern reaches of the Phoenix megalopolis lies the Agua Fria National Monument, named for the river that runs through it and known for its rich archeological history and the refuge it provides for a broad range of wildlife species, including the imperiled Gila chub, yellow-billed cuckoo and northern Mexican garter snake. It’s a wonderful monument, with grass covered mesas and many miles of riparian areas within its borders.

Unfortunately, and even after years of public process following Arizona Game and Fish Department’s purchase of the base property, the Bureau of Land Management seems to be more than willing to see this unique wildlife habitat as an untapped opportunity to expand livestock use of the monument lands. In June, the agency issued a decision to add nearly twenty miles of water pipeline, new wells, tanks and troughs, and  drain up to 200,000 gallons of water from nearby riparian areas to benefit the livestock industryThe project would also have authorized the use of six different herbicides and allowed the use of livestock as “biological control agents.” The BLM itself admitted the proposed range projects would drain the watershed and draw livestock to areas that hadn’t been grazed in years, resulting in extensive trampling of vegetation wildlife rely on for survival, but then ignored those impacts in its decision to do just that.

This week, Western Watersheds Project’s Arizona office  successfully “stayed” that decision as part of its appeal. The judge recognized the immediate and irreparable harm this project would have on the wildlife, the native plants, and the seventeen miles of riparian areas found on the allotment.  The project can’t go forward until the appeal is resolved, and, with any luck, the agencies will rethink their plans to make these national monument lands into more cattle pasture. At least, one can hope for that outcome.

The Administrative Law Judge’s decision can be found online.


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Comments

  1. Kate Avatar

    Well Done Greta! This is very good news. Keep up the good work! We are very grateful for all you do!

    1. Greta Anderson Avatar
      Greta Anderson

      Thanks Kate, but this wasn’t my work. Cyndi Tuell and Laura Welp were the bada*&es behind this victory! 🙂

  2. Gail Avatar
    Gail

    This is the kind of story I love. Fingers crossed and thanks for reporting.

  3. Rob Avatar
    Rob

    Great news. Thanks for posting this.
    Is there any way the public can provide support for this effort? I assume there was a public comment period on this decision but maybe not? Just curious to know a bit more about the process and how to get involved and have more public input. Thanks for any additional info you can provide – a website or whatever.

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