Embattled Arizona ranching families are making their final stand against the radical environmentalists who are determined to run them off the land. Like most ranchers, MSLF clients Bill and Barbara Marks are great lovers of the rangeland. They’ve been recognized for the environmental stewardship on multiple occasions. Fellow area rancher and MSLF client Doug Stacy has likewise received awards for his conservation work. But, despite these documented conservation efforts, well-heeled environmentalist groups are chipping away at the right of ranchers to exist—one lawsuit at a time. This time they are using the New Mexico Jumping Mouse as their legal weapon. The Marks and Stacy families are staring down a terrible threat to their livelihoods and their way of life.
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Both the Marks and Stacy families of Arizona have faced their share of obstacles. They’ve already had their livestock numbers slashed by the Forest Service due to previous environmental concerns, even though neither ranch family has ever been in non-compliance with their grazing permits. The Markses lost over 50% of their capacity, while the Stacys lost 83% of their cattle numbers. Despite their exemplary stewardship of the land, these historic ranches have already been nearly destroyed by pressure from environmental extremists through no fault of their own.
Litigation over related species of the jumping mouse has dogged economic development of much of the Western U.S. for years. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is an extremist group that constantly uses lawsuits to shutdown historic grazing operations and drive ranchers off the land. The CBD’s lawyers will use any tactic at their disposal in order to end public lands grazing and they do serious financial harm to these families. All the while, they claim they are only interested in environmental conservation.
But the ranchers’ record of conservation speaks for itself. Bill Marks and his brother were both named Conservationists of the Year by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Doug Stacy has also received awards for his extensive conservation work on the Upper Gila River watershed.
For these ranchers, this lawsuit not only imperils their financial future, but also their family legacies. The Marks family’s ranch was established by their ancestors in 1891. Barbara and Bill’s family are the sixth generation of ranchers to work this land. Doug Stacy and his wife, Charlene, also have deep roots in this part of the country. Doug has spent much of his life on livestock operations in New Mexico and Arizona. Both families are long-standing members of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, which is also a client in this case.
The environmental activists claim that the Jumping Mouse could be harmed by these long-established ranching operations—a claim they say is based on “science.” But, in fact, their agenda-driven “science” is largely made up and was not subject to peer review.
If we don’t stop the extremists at CBD, it will not only devastate Arizona’s cattle industry, which puts food on the table for countless American families, but it will also destroy the livelihood of numerous ranchers. In addition to losing the ability to graze on federal land, this lawsuit threatens their private property rights, private pasturage, water rights, range improvements, and roads.
Everything these ranchers know and love is on the line. To make matters worse, they are up against some of the wealthiest environmentalist groups in the country. So, these ranches turned to us for legal help in order to defend their right to exist.
The Marks and Stacy families have already endured so much loss. Federal agencies have whittled away these ranches’ herds to a mere fraction of their historic size, despite these families’ exemplary stewardship of the land. Now, far-left green activists seek to bury them for good.
If we fail to rise to this challenge, it would be a loss for all Americans who believe in the sanctity of private property and economic liberty. MSLF supporters proudly stand beside these families, defending the right of the best and most award-winning ranchers in Arizona to earn a living and work the land.