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Environmental Lawsuit Takes Aim At Cattle Grazing Management On Forest

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Twain Harte, CA — Two groups filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Forest Service arguing alleged poor management of cattle grazing in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The lawsuit was filed by the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC) and the Sierra Forest Legacy. It argues that the Forest Service has been allowing cattle grazing in some areas to the point that it is out of compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. Ranchers are given permits to bring cattle into the Stanislaus National Forest between summer to fall. The cattle help remove vegetation from the landscape, which is often praised as a way to reduce fuels during the fire season, but it is also often criticized by conservation groups when there is damage to high elevation meadows, habitat and pollution to streams.

The lawsuit claims that independent laboratory tests have shown repeated water quality violations in forest streams flowing through areas where cattle graze for weeks at a time. In a press release, it is noted that there was 10 years of agency planning about cattle grazing allotments, but recently the Forest Service decided to take no action to change the status quo, which prompted the lawsuit. The groups state they are not trying to end cattle grazing and are open to taking steps towards settling the lawsuit with the Forest Service.

  • Photo submitted as evidence of alleged overgrazing near tributary stream