Government Settles Grazing Dispute in National Monument

Government Settles Grazing Dispute in National Monument

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Interior Department on Monday settled a grazing war between the federal government and ranchers in southern Utah in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by administrative law judge Harvey C. Sweitzer, Quinn and Gene Griffin will each pay $6,000 for allowing their cattle to continue grazing on the monument after the Bureau of Land Management had ordered them to be removed in the midst of a severe drought.

The Griffins had been assessed a combined $45,000 by the Bureau of Land Management, which had removed their cattle from the monument after the brothers failed to meet a deadline set by then-monument manager Kate Cannon.

It was unclear if the fine forgave the remainder of the fees or if they had been paid.

Quinn Griffin, contacted late Monday, said he could not comment on the specifics because of a confidentiality agreement accompanying the settlement.

He said the brothers still hold the leases for the stretches in the monument, but they have not been allowed to graze cattle there until the dispute was settled.

In 2000, the Griffins had permits to run 327 cattle on a portion of the monument, but during a severe drought that summer Cannon ordered the cattle to be removed from the range by Sept. 1.

The Griffins and another rancher, Mary Bulloch, did not meet the deadline, and the BLM used wranglers and a helicopter to remove the cattle from the range, taking them to a temporary holding facility and billing the ranchers for the cost.

A few weeks later, tensions escalated when a group of ranchers, led by Bulloch, took back the impounded cattle. The U.S. Attorneys office did not file charges in the case.

The incident came to symbolize the hostility of ranchers toward the federal government after President Clinton created the 1.9 million-acre monument in southern Utah in 1996.

Monday's settlement does not include Bulloch.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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