Judge approves settlement to protect endangered species from livestock

by Daniel Patterson, Center for Biological Diversity

n Jan. 29, Judge William Alsup approved the lawsuit settlement agreement on livestock grazing between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the Sierra Club. The settlement now becomes a court order.

The hard-fought CDCA grazing settlement helps implement Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan recommendations for livestock reduction and removal from critical habitat. Cattle and sheep mow down plants important for tortoise health and reproduction. The hoofed livestock also tramples burrows, killing tortoises inside or wrecking their homes.

The settlement prevents BLM authorization of sheep grazing on 946,295 acres of tortoise habitat year round. The agreement removes cows from 43,596 acres of tortoise habitat year round. The CDCA settlement will further stimulate ecological recovery by preventing grazing of 285,381 acres of critical and 213,281 acres of essential tortoise habitat during biologically important spring and fall seasons (March 1 - June 15 and Sept. 7 - Nov. 7). BLM is also prohibited from permitting cattle grazing on 394,835 acres of currently ungrazed endangered species habitat. Imperiled species in the CDCA will benefit from grazing reduction or elimination on 1.9 million acres of habitat.

Cattle will also be excluded from within 3 miles of nesting Southwestern willow flycatchers and Least Bell's vireo. Desert tortoise and threatened plants such as the Parish's daisy are protected by removing cattle from Rattlesnake Canyon on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Grazing Stipulation On-line at: www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/goldenstate/cdca/stipulations.html.

The Center for Biological Diversity protects endangered species and wild places of western North America and the Pacific through science, policy, education, citizen activism, and environmental law. Center for Biological Diversity, PO Box 710 Tucson, Arizona 85702; (520) 623-5252 x306; www.biologicaldiversity.org.