| For immediate release: July 13, 2006
Judge Protects Gila Chub on
Tucson, Ariz. - The Center for Biological Diversity applauded a decision today that protects the endangered Gila chub from the impacts of livestock grazing on the Agua Fria National Monument. The decision states that the Bureau of Land Management failed to consider the potential for harm to the Gila chub and its habitat when it issued a ten-year grazing permit, and that it also improperly proceeded with an outdated analysis from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Agua Fria National Monument is approximately 71,000 acres and was established in 2000 by a presidential proclamation to protect the unique biological and cultural areas of this area, which is located 40 miles north of Phoenix. The diverse vegetative communities of the Monument provide habitat for numerous rare wildlife species, including the lowland leopard frog, Mexican garter snake, common black hawk, pronghorn, yellow-billed cuckoo and desert tortoise. The valuable riparian forests of the Monument were specifically highlighted in the presidential proclamation and their protection was given statutory priority.
Livestock grazing can damage riparian areas in numerous ways, including trampling stream banks, removing vegetation, and degrading water quality. Inappropriate grazing in upland areas can also degrade watershed conditions due to accelerated erosion and subsequent sedimentation in stream and rivers. This can harm the Gila chub, which depends on the clean, cool waters of Arizona’s few remaining perennial streams to survive, including Indian Creek in the northern part of the Monument.
“We hope that this ruling will persuade the BLM to manage Arizona’s National Monuments for the rich web-of-life they sustain, and to emphasize the values of wildlife habitat over extractive uses,” said Greta Anderson, Range Restoration Coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity.
The order was issued by Administrative Law Judge James H. Heffernan, for the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The order was granted in response to the Center for Biological Diversity’s appeal of the BLM’s November 2005 decision to approve a new livestock grazing permit without properly considering impacts to the natural and cultural resources in the area.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and their habitats.