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Wrapping up 2016 and Looking Ahead

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December 16, 2016
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Since 1993, Western Watersheds Project has been standing strong to defend this country’s soil and water, healthy watersheds, and the wild plants and animals that rely on functional ecosystems across western public lands.

In just this past year, we’ve had many notable successes and we couldn’t have done it without the community of supporters like you. Your generosity has empowered Western Watersheds Project to achieve these major victories for healthy lands and waters during 2016:

  • We successfully defended against a livestock industry appeal of the closure of two-thirds of domestic sheep allotments on the Payette National Forest to eliminate the specter of disease transmission that threatened to wipe out herds of native bighorn sheep, laying the groundwork for further efforts to eliminate disease-ridden domestic sheep from key bighorn habitats throughout the West.
  • After years of effort, we succeeded in securing Endangered Species Act listing for the rare slickspot peppergrass, a small plant found only in moist depressions in southern Idaho and northern Nevada and extremely threatened by pervasive livestock trampling.
  • From spectacular wilderness landscapes in Wyoming’s Wind River Range (once so overgrazed the Forest Service called them “The Sheep Desert”), to mountain meadows in the Gros Ventre and Wyoming Ranges where livestock-predator conflicts had led to high levels of grizzly and wolf killings, to bull trout and salmon streams in the Idaho mountains of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area where domestic sheep threaten to transmit diseases to native bighorns, Western Watersheds Project’s advocacy efforts secured retirement of more than 170,000 acres of public lands to livestock through permit buy-out!
  • Our oversight of livestock abuses in northern Nevada forced the early removal of cattle from allotments where streams harboring the rare Lahontan cutthroat trout and bull trout were being degraded by livestock impacts.
  • Thanks to ongoing litigation in the cactus country of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Western Watersheds Project has forced the BLM to conduct a new– and accurate– compatibility determination before deciding whether to allow livestock grazing to occur on this fragile landscape.

None of these victories would have been possible without the generous contributions of supporters like you!  Your support translated directly into healthier public lands and survival for threatened populations of fish and wildlife. So thank you, on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and the western watersheds and wildlife that are the direct beneficiaries of your contributions.

Even with all of our successes, 70% of public lands in the West are still being grazed by domestic livestock, and far too many of these lands are suffering from severe ecological damage as a result. In the coming year, we will continue our work by:

  1. Protecting bighorn sheep from domestic sheep diseases by advocating for separation.
  2. Protecting rare and imperiled trout and salmon currently listed under the Endangered Species Act from stream degradation caused by cattle and sheep.
  3. Working to save 36 million acres of sage grouse habitat by holding agencies accountable to their goal of leaving behind 7 inches of grass height to provide adequate hiding cover for sage grouse.
  4. Shutting down wildlife-killing programs by the federal agency Wildlife Services and state governments, to make our mountains and deserts safe for native wildlife like wolves, coyotes, and grizzly bears.
  5. Reining in livestock grazing in places where extreme damage is occurring to sensitive wildlife habitats, fragile soils, or ecologically crucial streamside areas.

In light of the disappointing election results of 2016, it will be more important than ever to have Western Watersheds Project out there fighting for your public lands and wildlife.

Thank you for helping us to stand firm against the exploiters of the land and the enemies of common-sense wildlife protections, and know that we appreciate your generous support!

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