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Carrizo Alert: Livestock Overgrazing on the Carrizo Plain

Los Padres Forest Watch Reports Commercial livestock set to return to Ecological Reserve

Los Padres Forest Watch reports in its October E-News that the Department of Fish and Game is poised to issue a three year permit to the same livestock operator who grazed the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve bare, forcing ForestWatch to successfully take the Department to Court.

The Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve - a 30,000 acre landscape adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest - has been damaged from years of overgrazing. ForestWatch inspected the area in 2009, witnessing widespread overgrazing and reported it to the Department of Fish and Game, the agency in charge of managing the area. But Department officials refused to do anything about it, so ForestWatch took them to court, and the Department ultimately agreed to remove the cattle, prepare an environmental study, and complete a management plan.

ForestWatch reports that this summer, the Department did the unthinkable - it again proposed to issue a three-year grazing permit, and to the same livestock operator that previously grazed the Ecological Reserve bare. Even worse, the Department attempted to do this without first preparing an Environmental Imapct Report - a critical step to ensure that any environmental impacts from grazing would be avoided. This month, ForestWatch led a coalition of conservation organizations who collectively submitted a detailed letter outlining several issues we would like to see addressed on the Reserve. The Department is now reviewing ForestWatch’s letter, and is poised to issue the grazing permit any day. ForestWatch says it will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve does not revert back to a commercial livestock feedlot but we urge Carrizo Commons members and supporters to watch this issue, to support Forest Watch’s efforts, and to write the Department voicing your opposition to the Department’s plans. This is even more important in the aftermath of Carrizo Common’s and the National Environmental Organizations’ recent settlements of lawsuits against the industrial scale solar plants which will result in the eventual reversion of project and mitigation lands on the Carrizo into conservation use in perpetuity. Continued overgrazing and abuse of the Carrizo Plain is not consistent with a vision of the Carrizo as a restored San Joaquin grassland ecosystem harboring the State’s greatest abundance and diversity of special status species of plants and animals.



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