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Livestock Grazing on SDNM Lawsuit Filed

The Sierra Club (SC) and the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) have filed a lawsuit protesting the BLM’s decision to continue allowing livestock grazing on the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM). I believe there is merit in the lawsuit, but the Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument (FSDNM) did not join in the suit.

The FSDNM in its comments on the Sonoran Desert National Monument Draft Resource Management Plan expressed concerns that continued grazing on the SDNM was not in the best interests of the monument’s resources. We favored the no grazing alternative in the Draft Resource Management Plan.

When the SDNM was proclaimed a monument in 2001 livestock grazing in the area south of Interstate 8 was banned through Presidential proclamation under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many people believe the ban should have covered the entire monument. I agree, but apparently political considerations made a compromise necessary and the area north of Interstate 8 continues to have the  potential for future grazing.

The cattle I have seen in the vicinity of northern half of the monument since 2009 were on Arizona state land and the livestock I have observed south of Interstate 8, where all livestock grazing is banned, are trespass cattle and horses from the Tohono O’dham Nation south of the monument. Tohono O’dham livestock wonder into the monument through fences cut by drug smugglers.

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