Judge allows NM ranchers to pursue grazing claim

Posted at: 01/31/2013 10:59 AM
By: The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Northern New Mexico ranchers are being allowed to try to prove their claim that a Carson National Forest official reduced their grazing permits in retaliation for criticizing the official.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Thursday that a federal judge ruled that the Rio Arriva County ranchers have a plausible case that District Ranger Diana Trujillo violated their First Amendment rights. Trujillo says her 2010 decision to allow grazing for 18 percent fewer cattle was based on an environmental assessment of range conditions.

The ranchers contend that Trujillo failed to control wild horses and elk that compete with livestock for forage. The ruling says Trujillo may have had legitimate reasons for deciding to reduce the grazing permits but that possible retaliation against critics of government cannot be ignored.

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