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For Immediate release: November 14, 2005


Contact: Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch (805) 252-4277 
              Boon Hughey, Ventana Wilderness Alliance (805) 466-2312      
              Greta Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity (520) 623-5252 x314  

Regional conservation groups appealed a controversial decision by the U. S. Forest Service to expand livestock grazing in endangered species habitat and within wilderness areas, along the Big Sur Coast in the Los Padres National Forest. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres ForestWatch, and the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club have appealed this project twice before, and the Forest Service has withdrawn the previous decisions. Today’s appeal challenges the agency on the same issues.

“The Forest Service continues to ignore the Wilderness Act at the expense of our public lands,” said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch. “The agency has been working on this project for over six years. It’s about time they came out with a better plan.”

The agency’s decision creates one new grazing allotment, dramatically expands grazing on others, and re-authorizes grazing leases on four other allotments covering over 24,000 acres. Cattle and other livestock grazing on the coastal allotments threatens several federally listed species, including the Smith’s blue butterfly, South-Central Coast steelhead trout, and the California red-legged frog. The decision also illegally increases grazing levels in a Congressionally-protected Wilderness Area, conflicts with recreational uses, and will lead to further damage of Native American sites and areas of cultural significance.
"One would think that on a Ranger District that's fully 92% designated Wilderness, closer attention and respect would be paid to the spirit and letter of the Wilderness Act," stated Boon Hughey, of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance. "Unfortunately, we have to keep reminding the agency of the law and their own policy and directives when it comes to commercial cattle grazing within wilderness."

In addition to challenging the Forest on its failure to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Forest Management Act, Wilderness Act, and Coastal Zone Management Act, conservationists assert that this project was never properly analyzed. They contend that an Environmental Impact Statement was needed to analyze the full impact of this project, especially since it is so controversial and covers such a large and important area. The agency received over 60 letters in protest of the project, but neglected to change or improve the project as a result.

“We sincerely hope that this is the last time we will have to appeal this project,” stated Greta Anderson, of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope that the Forest will realize they cannot get away with violating the Wilderness Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, degrading habitat for imperiled species, and compromising one of the most scenic coastlines in the country.”

The Ventana Wilderness Alliance is a non-profit conservation group whose mission is to protect, preserve, enhance and restore the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within the northern Santa Lucia Mountains.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of native species and their habitats.

Los Padres ForestWatch is a non-profit conservation organization working to protect and restore the Los Padres National Forest and surrounding public lands using community involvement, scientific collaboration, and legal advocacy.

The Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club, the oldest non-profit environmental organization in the nation, has a mission to protect the wild places of the earth and to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources.


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