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The Planet

Beer-Backed Bovines Waste Wilderness

The Planet, March 1997, Volume 4, number 2

The Anheuser-Busch Corporation doesn't just brew beer, it runs a cattle ranch that is contributing to overgrazing along two rivers in the southern Sierra Nevada.

The St. Louis-based maker of Budweiser and Bud Light beers moved into the cattle business when it purchased a ranch in California's Owens Valley in 1987. The corporation subsequently secured grazing permits located within the Golden Trout wilderness, just south of Mt. Whitney and roughly 150 miles north of Los Angeles.

The riparian habitats grazed by Anheuser-Busch's cattle are home to the native Volcano Creek golden trout, California's official state fish. These meadows and riparian areas also constitute important fawning, migration and summer range habitat for the Monache mule deer herd. The Sierra Club's Southern California/Nevada Regional Conservation and Forest/Wilderness committees recently passed two resolutions regarding Anheuser-Busch's cattle overgrazing the Golden Trout Wilderness. The company consistently violates Forest Service foraging consumption rates and has also violated the trampling and chiseling standard, which allows no more than 20 percent of any stream area to be compacted or disturbed by grazing activity in any one year. Recent scientific studies have shown that, over time, high levels of streambank disturbances tend to eliminate overhanging banks, sedge-lined streams and aquatic growth -- habitat features preferred by adult California golden trout.

"If we want our wild golden trout populations to thrive in the future, we need to encourage Anheuser-Busch to remove its cattle from the Golden Trout Wilderness," said Joe Fontaine, chair of the Sierra Club's Sierra Nevada Ecoregion Task Force.

To take action: Contact August Busch III, president and chairman of Anheuser-Busch, and urge him to stop the overgrazing. Write him at: Anheuser-Busch Companies, One Busch Place, St. Louis, MO 63118, or call (314) 577-2000. Send the same message to Inyo National Forest Supervisor Dennis Martin at 873 North Main St., Bishop, CA 93541; (619) 873-2400.

For more information: Contact Todd Shuman, Sierra Club activist and executive director of the Golden Trout Wilderness Protection League, 1442 A Walnut St., Suite #240, Berkeley, CA 94709; (818) 956-0207.

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