Friday, July 11, 2008

BLM asks for public comment regarding grazing on Ore. monument

The Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment regarding the future of cattle ranching in the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument.

A BLM assessment issued Thursday finds the current level of grazing does not adequately protect the wildlife and plants it was designed to guard when President Clinton designated it a national monument in 2000. However, whether open grazing will be completely eliminated from the monument, considered one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, is open to public comment for the next 30 days.

Monument Assistant Manager Howard Hunter says a decision will be made next year on whether cattle can stay. Meanwhile, a bill is pending in Congress that would pay ranchers with money raised by conservation groups to turn back their grazing leases.

"The cattle have been on that monument, or on that piece of land, for 150 years, and the cattle have been so detrimental to it that Clinton made it a national monument because of all the special plants and the community that has grown up there. And in my opinion, the cattle have probably enhanced that," says Rancher Bruce Buckmaster.

"The monument proclamation says retire the allotments. It's been clear for several years that the BLM doesn't intend to do that, it's been clear that the BLM has said, 'Oh we can change a little here, change a little there, and everything will be fine'. Well, that's illegal," says Dave Willis of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council.

To comment on the BLM's assessment of the effects of grazing visit this link.

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