On July 28, 2023, the Center for Biological Diversity, Inc. a 501(c)3 corporation that enjoys more than $ 36.7 Million of annual tax-free income and the Maricopa Audubon Society, a 501(c)3 corporation with tax-free assets surpassing $500,000.00, sued the USDA-Forest Service (USFS) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in their latest attempt to financially destroy more than 150 family-owned ranches and terminate livestock grazing throughout the Coronado National Forest. The Coronado National Forest shares the border with Mexico across eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. If successful, this lawsuit would set a precedent (and provide new taxpayer funding) for these activists to sue the Bureau of Land Management, other National Forests and State Land Departments in all seven states where the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo is listed as an endangered species with critical habitat. The 2021 final designation of critical habitat for the Western Yellow-billed cuckoo includes 298,845 acres of land in portions of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.
The plaintiffs also are suing because Mexican cattle are crossing our open border through smuggler-cut fences and getting into areas that have been fenced off to protect endangered species including the Sonora chub. Meanwhile, the same plaintiffs agitate for open borders. The Sonora chub is a little Mexican minnow that washes northward into two normally dry washes in the extreme southern part of Arizona o during summer monsoon storms. It dies when the washes on the American side of the border dry out, usually within a few hours or at most, a day or two. A few do manage to survive in shallow rock pools called, “tinajas” unless the pools dry out.
This predatory third-party lawsuit (they are suing the feds with intent to destroy the ranchers) challenges the FWS’s September 30, 2021 Biological Opinion (“BiOp”) and USFS’s reliance on that BiOp in authorizing livestock grazing on most or all of the 177 livestock grazing allotments in the Coronado National Forest.
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit includes the following prayer for relief:
“PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court enter an Order:
(1) Declaring that Defendants have violated the ESA [Endangered Species Act] and the APA [Administrative Procedure Act];
(2) Enjoining USFS from authorizing livestock grazing in occupied habitat for the cuckoo and the chub in the Forest, including making “any irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources with respect to” that action in violation of 16 U.S.C. § 1536(d), until consultation has been reinitiated and completed;
(3) Setting aside all active USFS grazing authorizations in the Forest that allow livestock grazing in occupied cuckoo and chub habitat, and the BiOp upon which those authorizations rely; [notice they specified “occupied habitat,” not “designated critical habitat” (emphasis is ours)- so they are looking to terminate grazing anywhere a bird can fly.]
(4) Remanding the affected USFS grazing authorizations and BiOp to Defendants with instructions to immediately reinitiate consultation to address the impacts of proposed grazing on the cuckoo and the chub;
(5) Awarding Plaintiffs their attorneys’ fees and costs in this action; and
(6) Granting Plaintiffs any further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.”
The Coronado National Forest and the FWS filed answers to the complaint, denying most of the claims and stating repeatedly that the referenced government documents speak for themselves.
Judge Rosemary Marquez has been assigned to the case.
SACPA has filed a Motion to Intervene in the case. Unlike the taxpayer-supported plaintiffs, charitable contributions to SACPA are not tax-deductible. But ranchers in southern Arizona and New Mexico are under a serious attack. Nearly 1/4 of the U.S. cattle herd spends time on federal lands. This lawsuit is just one of numerous threats to America’s future food security.
To help raise litigation defense funds, Marana Stockyards and Livestock Auction will be holding a rollover calf auction on November 15.
Please help us continue to provide America with delicious, nutritious home-grown beef at an affordable price! Please send your generous contribution today to:
8200 E Box Canyon Rd
Green Valley, AZ 85614