Judge considering Hispanic ranchers' case against U.S. Forest Service over grazing rights

A federal judge is weighing whether to let a case move forward in which a group of Hispanic ranchers is suing the U.S. Forest Service over a decision to limit grazing on historic land grant areas in northern New Mexico.

The ranchers claim the agency is discriminating by trying to push them from land that has been worked by their families for centuries.

U.S. District Judge James Browning heard arguments Thursday on a motion by the Forest Service to dismiss the case. He's expected to make a decision by September.

The ranchers say at stake is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to fire wood.

The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision to cut grazing on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments.

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