March 29, 2016
Online Messenger #332
Today, Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada over its approval of new fences in important sage-grouse habitat on the Argenta allotment.
The Argenta allotment in the Battle Mountain District is the subject of much controversy already because livestock operators there have resisted the BLM’s drought closures and instead bullied the BLM into considering a slew of proposals for new livestock infrastructure to justify more grazing on the badly degraded public lands. Rather than insist upon needed rest periods, the BLM has caved to rancher demands to allow their herds back onto the parched landscapes and enabled that use by approving the contested fencing.
WWP has been trying to improve the management of the Argenta allotment in many ways, including spending many hours in a Cooperative Monitoring Group (CMG) and pushing back on the skewed science and biased assumptions of the rancher-led process. WWP’s staff have been repeatedly disappointed in CMG decisions that serve livestock interests and overlook cattle-caused degradation.
And so we’re taking the fight to court, where we expect a judge to understand that new infrastructure is not the answer to fix problems caused by livestock overgrazing. The answer is to take a comprehensive look at the various ways protection could be accomplished without entrenching livestock grazing any further. The new fencing is only the first round of range developments, with a “Round Two” proposal for additional fencing already underway. Both suites of infrastructure are designed to enable cattle use of sensitive sage-grouse habitat while avoiding consideration of the cumulative and ongoing impacts to the species from grazing on the allotment as a whole.