Cow vs. Wolf: The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association issued a gloating press release on Oct.2, basically shouting "in yo' face" at WildEarth Guardians. The Santa Fe-based environmental group suffered a major defeat with US District Court Judge James Browning's dismissal of its challenge to how the US Forest Service grants grazing permits in the Gila National Forest.

"This case was just one more attempt by a radical activist group to eliminate livestock grazing," NMCGA President Alisa Ogden is quoted as saying. "We are so pleased that the court saw through the claims made by the WildEarth Guardians and ruled on the side of common sense and the will of Congress."

WildEarth Guardians challenged the Forest Service's use of "categorical exclusions," which allows the agency to approve grazing permits without public input or extended environmental impact analysis. WildEarth Guardians is downplaying the defeat and says it is evaluating whether to file an appeal.

"We've never won in front of this judge so it was disappointing but not surprising," WildEarth Guardians Executive Director John Horning tells SFR. "It's a disappointing decision and critically imperiled wildlife, such as the Mexican Gray Wolf, will be adversely affected."

County vs. Wildcats: The 2007-2008 battle to keep oilmen from drilling in the Galisteo Basin was just the start of what has now become a regional war over mineral rights.

The next rumble kicks off at the Oil Conservation Commission hearing, scheduled for 9 am, Oct. 7 at Porter Hall, 1220 S. St Francis. At the top of the docket: the Rio Arriba Board of County Commissioners' motion for the cancellation or suspension of four drilling permits issued to Approach Operating. The RAC claims the wells will "cause waste, violate correlative rights and/or be injurious to human health and the environment." Approach will make a motion for the approval of 20 new drilling permits in Rio Arriba County.

Approach is represented by attorney J Scott Hall, who also was hired by the Santa Fe Opera to broker a deal in which the Opera and College of Santa Fe would lease 27,000 acres worth of mineral rights in Mora and San Miguel counties. 

Those mineral rights were leased to J Bar Cane, the same Stanley NM-based energy company that bought up the Galisteo Basin rights and sold them to Tecton Energy.

A network of anti-drilling activists, including Drilling Santa Fe, Drilling Mora County and the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center, are preparing. At Tapetes de Lana in Mora on Oct. 8, Drilling Mora County will run a training camp on how to dig up documents and track leases, as well as how to find where the oilmen plan to strike next.