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Escalante Wilderness Project                                     Southern Utah

Contact: Tori Woodard, Juniper Allison, Patrick Diehl 435/826-4778

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2001

CATTLE IMPOUNDMENT NIXED ON GSENM

Escalante, Utah – The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was poised to impound trespass cattle, mules and a horse on Fifty-Mile Mountain yesterday (November 19), but the Utah State Office of the Bureau of Land Management nixed the plan on Friday, November 16, undercutting outgoing GSENM Manager Kate Cannon. On November 13 the GSENM sent impound notices to the livestock owners Mary Bulloch, Quinn Griffin, Gene Griffin, and Brent Griffin.

GSENM has been trying to remove these livestock from Fifty-Mile Mountain since August 2000, when they found that 90% of the forage had been eaten. BLM standards for the GSENM require livestock removal if forage utilization exceeds 60%.

“This is a clear case of political manuveuring vs. science and reason,” said Tori Woodard, Escalante Wilderness Project board member. “By calling off the impoundment, BLM undermined its own staff and broke its own regulations.”

Fifty-Mile Mountain was so dry last year that many cattle died on it. Woodard and Patrick Diehl, also an EWP board member, saw the corpses in June 2001. The terrain is so rugged that at least 50 cattle, 3 mules and a horse eluded several round-ups in Fall 2000 and January 2001. These animals and new calves are still illegally grazing on the mountain.

GSENM Range Lead Gregg Christensen told Woodard on November 19 that he wants to remove the cattle and that BLM is going to have to do something because the herd is reproducing. Christensen is an Escalante native from a ranching family.

As of April 19, 2001, Bulloch owed BLM $65,036, Quinn Griffin owed BLM $31,346, and Gene and Brent Griffin owed BLM $40,863 in trespass fines and impound costs for the cattle that BLM has already removed from Fifty-Mile Mountain. In addition, the branded cattle, mules and horse that are still on Fifty-Mile Mountain are accruing trespass fines at the rate of $20 per animal unit month ($20 per adult or cow/calf pair per month since September 2000).

BLM’s November 13 letter also notified Quinn Griffin that they would impound cattle of his that are illegally grazing on the neighboring Forty-Mile Ridge Allotment, where he does not have a livestock grazing permit. Griffin is the son-in-law of former Garfield County Commissioner Louise Liston.

“By preventing the GSENM staff from doing their job, the BLM State Office has shown their cards,” said Diehl. “The health of the land takes a back seat to playing politics. They want to go back to the old ways, where their friends get special privileges and the taxpayer gets the bill.”