Salida grazing lawsuit, Pike-San Isabel Nation Forest

This action challenges the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Salida-Leadville Range Allotment Management Plan, which is a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to re-authorize livestock grazing on thirteen grazing allotments covering about one-quarter of a million acres on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado.

The grazing would occur on lands that have been demonstrably impaired by previous livestock grazing, but the Forest Service has chosen to continue to graze the same livestock numbers,in the same seasons, and in the same manner as livestock have been grazed in the past, even though this practice has led to admitted violations of federal environmental standards.

Under this grazing program, the Forest Service will rely on an ambitious annual monitoring program to make various modifications to each succeeding year’s permit. However, one full year will be granted to permittees before any changes take place, and a minimum of three years of monitoring will be required before any significant reductions will be made in grazing numbers or seasons of use.

The Forest Service has also authorized construction of up to 135 new water developments, including about 40 miles of pipeline and dozens of developments at natural springs, but has deferred analysis of the environmental impacts of this construction to a future date.

Because continued grazing in this area in its traditional fashion will continue to degrade important natural resources, and because the Forest Service has prematurely authorized widespread water developments without first analyzing their potential impact to the environment, Western Watersheds Project challenges the final decision, the environmental assessment (“EA”), and the finding of no significant impact (“FONSI”) for this project.

Western Watersheds Project seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to remedy the Forest Service’s violations of law, to correct ongoing irreparable harm, and to prevent further irreparable harm to the water quality, soil productivity, and wildlife habitat resulting from the Forest Service’s actions. Plaintiff Western Watersheds Project brings this challenge under the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”), the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”).

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