The following is a letter that we have sent to the USFS in response to their publication of a notice of intent to construct the cattle and elk fencing on the Rio Cebolla that we have planned for our May 31, 2014 volunteer project.
In general, projects on Federal property that go beyond simple repairs and maintenance require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Those documents are a big deal and frequently take a year or more to get through the process. There are exceptions for projects that fall within the general scope of a previously issued EIS, where a Forest manager issues a short letter description (called a Categorical Exclusion, CE) and then states the project is exempt from a new EIS.
When the Forest Service did this for the Cebolla project, the cattle grazing community raised an uproar, making the ridiculous claim that the work was a first step to eliminating all grazing on the National Forest. The FS had visions of the recent case of the Nevada outlaw grazing permittee repeating on the Jemez District and now may be reconsidering the project.
Our letter is intended to be a counter to what the cattle grazers have been doing. Trout Unlimited has sent a similar, strongly worded letter to the District Ranger. We hope to get this sorted out in a week or so we have time to organize an alternative volunteer project on May 31st if we can’t do the one originally planned.
Cebolla Categorical Exclusion response (pdf file)