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FOREST CUTS GRAZING ON 125,000 ACRES

The Dixie National Forest has reduced grazing on 125,000 acres of Boulder Mountain after a review found the area's grazing capacity had been overstated.

Forest officials are splitting the east slope of the southcentral Utah mountain in half and then cutting grazing there by 24 percent and 46 percent.According to documents that accompanied the final decision, the cuts were made after discovering a grazing capacity error for the area of Wayne and Garfield counties about 15 miles south of Torrey.

Rep. Met Johnson, R-New Harmony, has taken issue with the data, which he called "forged documentation."

"The whole thing smells real bad," Johnson said.

Data on rangeland conditions from 1990 showed allotments were not grazed to capacity, Johnson said. Then, ranchers were given the same documents earlier this year with the same date - only this time the data was different and indicated the area was overgrazed, he said.

Dixie National Forest supervisor Hugh Thompson said Johnson may have misunderstood the technical methodology of rangeland data.

"He thinks it's a giant expose of a plot to defraud the grazing permittees," Thompson said. "It just isn't that. We don't do that. We don't need to doctor data."

Jerry Jensen, assistant to the Utah Attorney General, said an inquiry into Johnson's allegation indicated that two different sets of numbers were released.

However, the attorney general's office has dropped the matter because the discrepancy did not constitute proof of falsification and the office probably has no jurisdiction over the federal agency, Jensen said.