Crosby says SPRNCA is illegal

shar.porier@myheraldreview.com Mar 25, 2021



Interesting article by Shar Porier of the Sierra Vista Herald Tribune regarding recent activity by the Cochise County, AZ Board of Supervisors related to grazing on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). Grazing has been and always will be a contentious issue as it relates to the SPRNCA. The most recent Resource Management Plan allowed grazing to continue on the four allotments that overlap with the SPRNCA. I'm at a loss for how this particular supervisor has determined the SPRNCA is unconstitutional and I'm not clear what further action he desires.


The portion of the article relevant to this topic is reprinted below.


BISBEE — A letter from Cochise County in support of the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to allow grazing on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area was approved during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, though not unanimously.


Supervisors Ann English and Peggy Judd approved the letter, but Supervisor Tom Crosby did not, saying the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, which is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, is “unconstitutional.”


He stated, “The SPRNCA was established in 1988. The SPRNCA seemed like a good idea, when it was accompanied by $10 million of free money from the federal government. More millions of dollars have followed. I do support our ranchers, but I do not believe the way to support them is through acknowledging the BLM. In my opinion the SPRNCA is unconstitutional. In my opinion, the most detrimental effect the SPRNCA has been to set up the endless lawsuits that have intended to reduce missions on Fort Huachuca. One of the historical missions of the fort is protecting livestock interests.


“Our ranchers, in my opinion, do not need permission of the BLM. This item broaches one of the top two issues that come before this board. Much more action is needed on this subject.”


He then made a motion to table the agenda item to approve the letter to have more discussion on the SPRNCA and “the broader issue of water.”


However, a motion to approve the letter had already been made and seconded, making his motion to table moot.

Richard Searle, a former supervisor and speaking on behalf of county ranchers, pointed out the county spent a lot of money developing the Comprehensive Plan which is quoted in the letter, “Per our plan, agricultural uses, including grazing, should be permitted on all public lands within limits consistent with multiple use and conservation goals. Further, in relation to the SPRNCA, our Plan states, ‘Cochise County recognizes both the historic and current value of the SPRNCA as a national riparian wildlife habitat, migratory bird corridor, recreational and agricultural resource, and critical habitat for an endangered species.’”


Searle also said the Cochise County Farm Bureau, Cochise Graham Cattle growers Association and the Hereford National Resources Conservation District are all in support of grazing on the SPRNCA.


English told Crosby the county has worked with the BLM for a number of years and offered comments during the planning stages of the SPRNCA management plan.


“We wanted our public lands to be used by the public,” she said, adding the additional uses of grazing and expansion of the hunting areas created more public use.

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