Arizona's Prescott National Forest is not the place for cows and sheep, according to a lawsuit filed in August by The Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club. But the suit goes beyond the usual grazing vs. o-grazing debate.
lawsuit charges that the Forest Service violated federal law by
issuing grazing permits without considering whether the Prescott
was suitable for livestock. The 1976 National Forest Management Act
requires the agency to determine if an activity is economically and
environmentally appropriate when developing forest
The Forest Service has acknowledged that
grazing has extensively damaged the Prescott. In 1987, planners
found all but 1 percent of the forest's streamside areas in poor or
very poor condition. Still, they opted to continue grazing in most
Regional foresters are now working on a
"how-to" guide for determining suitability, and Charlie Richmond,
head of range management for the Rocky Mountain Region, expects it
will lead to restricted grazing in some areas. He says, "There are
a lot of things we can do better in terms of suitability."