San Juan Bautista land dispute over removal of horses continues

San Juan Bautista land dispute over removal of horses continues

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. - Last October, Jennifer Galindo-Cole’s family was notified that after more than 30 years they would have to give up their lease on a 53 acre plot of land.

Graniterock, who owns the land, is conducting an environmental mitigation study in an effort to save the diminishing population of California tiger salamanders.

With that study, the Galindo-Cole's would no longer be able to allow their 13 horses to graze the large plot of land.

“To displace rescue horses that have no other place to go until I’m able to rehab them and re-home them. They’re displacing horses and allowing cattle to go on there, that I’m assuming will be sold for profit,” Jennifer Galindo-Cole said.

The cattle that are now grazing the land belong to Galindo-Cole's neighbor. Graniterock says its just temporary and they're not going to lease the land to anyone because its being used as an environmental mitigation area.

They say horses would hurt those efforts because horses are discriminatory when they graze.

“Horses are difficult for native species, when they’re grazing they graze everything and they stop everything so we’re just going to leave it open,” Graniterock communications manager Keith Severson said.

Galindo-Cole feels like Graniterock has broken that promise and says they had an agreement that if the land was leased again she would get first priority.

“That was sort of what I was placing my hope on and my word on,” Galindo-Cole said.

Graniterock says they're not leasing the land to the neighbor or anyone else as long as it's a mitigation area, which Galindo-Cole still questions.

“If they found salamanders why would it matter if the same species went back that have been there they obviously have not destroyed the habitat why can’t they go back?” Galindo-Cole said.

Graniterock is set in their decision and the fence dividing the land will stay up.

Galindo-Cole has offered to purchase cattle if they lease her the land, but Graniterock says the cattle grazing will only be there for another month or two. After that, they'll likely continue their mitigation efforts.

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