Wyoming Wildlife Deserve Better than Feedlots on Forest Lands!

July 14, 2014

Online Messenger #283

(view with pictures, as displayed in email) Western Watersheds Project has filed a court challenge contesting the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s daily feeding of elk on five feedgrounds during the winter on public lands within the Bridger-Teton National Forest and adjacent to the Palisades Wilderness Study Area. The contested feedlots are attracting between 73 and 84 percent of the elk in northwest Wyoming each year, but the Forest Service has not sufficiently analyzed the consequences of issuing a 20-year permit to WGFD to feed the wildlife on these federal lands. Elk feedgrounds arise from another era, when the idea was to keep elk away from haystacks on private ranch lands. Now, feedgrounds are maintained in large part to alleviate the fears of ranchers about the transmission of brucellosis to cattle. These feedgrounds have sustained artificially high populations of elk and led to unnatural concentrations...

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WWP Fights to Protect the Lynx

July 7, 2014

Online Messenger #280

(view with pictures, as displayed in email) Idaho Governor Butch Otter, the director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department, and members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission were warned in April 2014 that they were violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing accidental trapping of the rare Canada lynx. Now, Western Watersheds Project and our co-plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the illegal death and harassment of this species. Last Monday, Western Watersheds ProjectCenter for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardiansand the Western Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit against the state officials for permitting activities that lead to trapping and killing of lynx, a threatened species numbering as few as 100 animals in Idaho. Recreational and commercial trapping activities in the state have caught...

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April 16, 2013

Online Messenger #247

(view with pictures, as displayed in email) Chinook salmon, bull trout, and steelhead will swim in clearer waters this year after Western Watersheds Project successful litigation on the Camas Creek allotment of Central Idaho. The lawsuit was filed in April 2012 because of Endangered Species Act violations and unlawful taking of protected species through cattle trampling, degraded water quality and wallowing that harmed fish eggs and redds. On April 15, 2013 the suit was successfully settled by WWP with the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Services, Jack Whitworth and Whitworth Ranches.  The agencies agreed to complete a new biological consultation for impacts to anadromous fish and bull trout and no livestock grazing can occur pending completion of this consultation! The Camas Creek allotment is especially important for these native fishes because...

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WWP Wins Closure of Grazing Allotment in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area!

March 7, 2013

Online Messenger #244

(view with pictures, as displayed in email) After years of trying to convince the Sawtooth National Forest to protect a small allotment on the Salmon River, Western Watersheds Project received some unexpected good news in the form of a Closure Announcement for the Obsidian Cattle & Horse allotment! The Obsidian Allotment encompasses 482 acres including 115 acres of riparian vegetation and 367 acres of upland sagebrush habitat in the Sawtooth Valley. It provides habitat for pronghorn, elk, moose, osprey, bald eagle, mule deer and wolves.  The stretch of the Salmon River that passes through the allotment is “critical habitat” for the Snake River sockeye, Chinook salmon, Snake River steelhead and Columbia River bull trout. The Obsidian Allotment was private land until 1974 when it was condemned and acquired by the Forest Service in order to remove the Obsidian townsite subdivision of about 80 lots...

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News Release: Endangered Species Act Protection is Proposed for Gunnison Sage-grouse

January 10, 2013 Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Gunnison Sage-grouse Proposed Endangered Status for Gunnison Sage-grouse For immediate release January 10, 2013 Contact: Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project (208) 788-2290 Hailey, ID – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing rule and critical habitat designation for the Gunnison sage-grouse that will designate the species as Endangered and provide 1.7 million acres of critical habitat in Colorado and Utah. Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) has a more restricted range than the closely-related Greater sage-grouse (C. urophasianus), but both birds face the same threats from livestock grazing: livestock eat the plants that sage-grouse depend on and permanently alter sage-grouse habitat. “We’re pleased that Gunnison’s sage-grouse will receive Endangered Species Act protection,” said Jon Marvel, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Sage-grouse are...

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Federal Judge Orders Stay On BLM Plan to Increase Cattle Grazing on Sage Grouse, Pygmy Rabbit, and Bighorn Sheep Habitat

September 27, 2012 Federal Judge Orders Stay On BLM Plan to Increase Cattle Grazing on Sage Grouse, Pygmy Rabbit, and Bighorn Sheep Habitat For immediate release - November 23, 2009 Contact: Michael J. Connor, Tel. (818) 345-0425 Email: mjconnor@westernwatersheds.org On Wednesday November 18, a Federal judge agreed with Western Watersheds Project and ordered the Bureau of Land Management to hold off on its decision to increase cattle grazing on the 10,260 acre Calcutta Allotment. T he Calcutta Allotment is located in northwest Nevada adjacent to the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the BLM Surprise Field Office. In his decision, Administrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer halted BLM’s decision to increase the number of cows authorized to use these public lands because Western Watersheds Project had demonstrated that the BLM had failed to consider the impacts of increased cattle numbers and new range facilities on sage grouse. “Calcutta Allotment contains important habitat used by sage...

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Conservationists Challenge Grazing in Bodie Hills to Protect Mono Basin Sage-Grouse

Conservationists Challenge Grazing in Bodie Hills to Protect Mono Basin Sage-Grouse Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians are suing the the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in federal court over two decisions the BLM’s Bishop Field Office made to reauthorize cattle grazing on four public land allotments in the Bodie Hills just north of Mono Lake despite their impacts to imperiled Bi-State sage-grouse. “The BLM’s insistence on continued grazing threatens the survival of this magnificent bird,” said Michael Connor, California Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The Bi-State sage-grouse population is declining, yet we have to seek a court order to get the BLM to take the strong measures that are needed to conserve the species.” Bi-State sage-grouse are a distinct population of greater sage-grouse found in the vicinity of Mono Lake on the border of California and Nevada. The total population of Mono Basin sage-grouse is estimated at fewer than 5,000 birds and...

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WWP Sues to Stop Fast Tracked Power Plant in CA

For immediate release - January 17, 2011 Contacts: Dr. Michael Connor, Western Watersheds Project California Director, 818.345.0425 LOS ANGELES — On Friday January 14, 2011 Western Watersheds Project filed suit in federal court to halt construction of the Ivanpah solar power plant project being built in the Mojave Desert on public lands in eastern California near the Nevada border. The project site consists of 5.4 square miles of high quality habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. “No project can be considered clean or green when it involves destruction of habitat for a species listed under Endangered Species Act on this scale,” said Michael Connor, California Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The Department of Interior is tasked with siting energy projects in an environmentally sound manner. Instead it is allowing thousands of acres of important desert tortoise habitat to be bulldozed when there are alternative ways of generating power.” Threatened by habitat loss, habitat degradation,...

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Western Watersheds Project Files Suit to Protect Desert Wildlife Across 615,000 Acres of Public Lands in Southwestern Arizona

For immediate release - May 21, 2010 Contact: Erik Ryberg, Attorney, (520) 784-8665 Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Bureau of Land Management to halt a proposal to conduct commercial livestock grazing on 615,000 acres of arid desert lands near Yuma, Arizona. The proposal would authorize the agency to grant commercial leases to livestock growers to run cows across some of the most arid public lands in North America. The lands in question average less than four inches of rain per year (by comparison, Phoenix gets more than twice that amount) and average 110 days per year with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The lands encompass two remote Wilderness Areas, including the 100,000 acre Eagletail Wilderness Area, which is treasured by hikers, hunters, and wildlife viewers for its wildlife, cultural and botanical resources, and its rugged desert scenery. The landscape is occupied by mule deer, bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and abundant...

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Western Watersheds Project Wins Appeal of Grazing Decision on Grand Canyon-Quality Landscapes on Arizona Strip

Western Watersheds Project Wins Appeal of Grazing Decision on Grand Canyon-Quality Landscapes on Arizona Strip For immediate release - May 27, 2010 Contact: Greta Anderson, Arizona Director (520) 623-1878 Tucson, Ariz – A federal judge has ruled in favor of Western Watersheds Project and reversed a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to allow livestock grazing on the Kanab Gulch grazing allotment on the Arizona Strip. “The undisputed material facts show that BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Administrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer, and he sent the decision back to the drawing board. Kanab Gulch allotment consists entirely of public lands and is within the Kanab Creek Wilderness Area, near the Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab National Forest. The allotment has important archeological remains, and it provides habitat for desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, and other wildlife. Although livestock are known to impact these sensitive resources, the BLM...

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