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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Conservationists File Suit Challenging Livestock Grazing On National Monument

Conservationists File Suit Challenging Livestock Grazing On National Monument For immediate release - November 23, 2009 Contact: Jon Marvel (208) 788-2290 Glenn Monahan (406) 691-1135 Preservation of Status Quo Ignores Presidential Proclamation MISSOULA, MONTANA – Western Watersheds Project and two of its members, outfitters Glenn Monahan and Nancy Schultz, have filed a federal lawsuit in Missoula District Court against the Bureau of Land Management challenging recent decisions over how the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument should be managed. Their primary complaint concerns the continuation of intensive cattle grazing along the banks of the river, which has significantly altered the natural plant communities and the vast array of fish and wildlife that depend on that riparian vegetation. According to Jon Marvel, Executive Director for WWP, “Nobody who navigates this spectacularly wild and scenic river should be forced to clear cow dung in order to pitch a tent.” Monahan and Schultz are retired schoolteachers who...

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WWP Files Suit to Protect the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana

September 26, 2012 Introduction 1. Plaintiffs, Western Watersheds Project, along with their members Glenn Monahan and Nancy Schultz, collectively referred to hereinafter as “WWP”, bring this civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the above named Defendants (hereinafter, “BLM”) pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA), the Federal Land Management Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and Presidential Proclamation 7398 (January 17, 2001), establishing the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (the Proclamation). 2. The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (Monument) is a national treasure that contains a spectacular array of biological, geological, and historical objects of interests. 3. The Monument includes the 149 mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River (UMNWSR) and adjacent breaks country, six Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), the Cow Creek area of critical environmental concern, some of the largest and most viable elk and...

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