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Subsidized Grazing During Desert Drought

July 05, 2002

Re "Chain Reaction of Thirst in California Desert Dry Spell," June 23: As our native desert wildlife suffers in a severe drought, the Bush administration allows damaging livestock grazing to continue on 5 million acres of the California Desert Conservation Area and Mojave National Preserve.

A handful of cattlemen already subsidized to graze their herds on our public lands are being allowed to hammer habitat to dust, and then when all the scant forage is gone, Interior Secretary Gale Norton's field managers permit them to keep grazing livestock on our stressed deserts by supplementing their feed. This is especially appalling given that last summer an Interior Department judge ruled that Norton has a duty to restrict livestock grazing to protect endangered species and natural values.

This is a starvation year in the California desert for the desert tortoise, bighorn sheep and other wildlife as U.S. land managers are more concerned with serving a few cattlemen than conserving our American natural heritage.

Daniel R. Patterson

Desert Ecologist

Center for Biological Diversity

Idyllwild, Calif.

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