the state agree. In
a letter to the City
of Lubbock, Texas Tech University Professor Clint Boal
states his concern that “the entire case for prairie dog eradication
is built purely on speculation.” A bluntly
written letter from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
goes even further, stating that “TCEQ admitted having no evidence
that prairie dogs were creating problems at the
LLAS,” and asking them to “revise” their notice of violation
to the city. But
to date TCEQ has ignored these pleas.
So what is really
going on here? Lubbock
city officials have been trying to remove the prairie dogs
for years because local ranchers would prefer to use the LLAS
for grazing. They argue that the dogs compete
with the cows for forage and dig burrows where cattle can
stumble. This convenient deal appeared
to be the perfect solution:
TCEQ gets to look tough on pollution, something they
are not famous for, and the city of Lubbock gets to say, “Hey,
it’s not our fault, our hands are tied.”
The dogs are killed, and nobody is to blame.
non-native rye grass now planted for the 3,000 head of cattle
currently grazing the site does not absorb nearly the same
amount of effluent that native grasses would.
And cattle grazing, more than any single factor, eliminate
nitrate-absorbing vegetation. In
fact, the cows were moved onto the site about the same time
that the prairie dogs arrived, but TNRCC has conveniently
not assessed the cattle’s effect on the soil.
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