Western Watersheds Project Wins Battle in Fight to Protect Agua Fria National Monument

For Immediate Release

October 7, 2019 


Cyndi Tuell, Western Watersheds Project, 520-272-2454, cyndi@westernwatersheds.org


PHOENIX, Ariz.— Western Watersheds Project successfully stopped the Bureau of Land Management’s project to add industrial scale livestock water development to the Agua Fria National Monument, located approximately forty miles north of Phoenix. The ill-advised decision would add nearly twenty miles of water pipeline, new wells, tanks and troughs, and would drain up to 200,000 gallons of water from nearby riparian areas to benefit the livestock industry.The project would also have authorized the use of six different herbicides and allow the use of livestock as “biological control agents.”

Western Watersheds Project challenged the decision because the agency failed to disclose the negative impacts to riparian areas and failed to adequately protect the natural and historic resources found in the Agua Fria National Monument, including extensive archaeological resources and habitat for the imperiled Gila chub, yellow billed-cuckoo, and the northern Mexican garter snake.

“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 here,” said Cyndi Tuell, Arizona & New Mexico Director for Western Watersheds Project.“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 approve this project.”

“We hope the BLM will treat this decision as a sign they need to go back to the drawing board. If the BLM would comply with its own regulations, they would find that this industrial scale water development to benefit livestock is incompatible with protecting the natural resources found in the Monument,” said Tuell.

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


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