Western Watersheds Project won an important lawsuit in Washington State on April 2, 2010.
In a big but welcome surprise, Thurston County Superior Court Presiding Judge Paula Casey ruled from the bench that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s authorization of livestock grazing on the Asotin Wildlife Area in eastern Washington was unlawful under the Washington Administrative Procedures Act.
The Judge noted that the agency had disregarded its own scientists, who repeatedly warned the agency that the grazing was harming the native fish and wildlife. Fish and wildlife on the area includes steelhead, deer, elk, and mountain quail as well as several rare plants such as Spalding’s catchfly and Stalk-leaved Monkeyflower.
The WDFW, under political pressure from Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and the Washington Cattlemen's Association, opened the Asotin Wildlife Area to grazing in 2006. This was despite the fact that portions of the area were purchased with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration as “fish and wildlife mitigation” for the Columbia River dams.
Last year, the same court ruled that a separate WDFW grazing lease on the Whiskey Dick/Quilomene Wildlife Area violated the law for failing to do any analysis under the State Environmental Protection Act. WWP has a pending action challenging the WDFW's plans to expand grazing and fencing throughout the Whiskey Dick/Quilomene Area, home to one of the last remnants of the highly imperiled Washington sage-grouse.
Western Watersheds Project, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Desert Survivors took the first step in a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for unlawfully delaying protection under the Endangered Species Act of both the bi-state population of greater sage-grouse and greater sage grouse as a whole by filing a formal notice of intent to sue.
The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau and the Hailey Chambers of Commerce Board of Directors have jointly awarded Western Watersheds Project its 'Environmental Advocate of the Year'. The Chambers' Press Release says of WWP:
This non-profit has spent the last 17 years working to restore riparian habitat on public lands severely damaged by livestock grazing. WWP has transformed the way the State of Idaho handles its land leases- requiring the state to have free market auctions that give conservation groups equal opportunity to bid against public lands ranchers. The organization has grown from Idaho Watersheds Project and one man, Jon Marvel, to encompass 11 western states and work on over 150 million acres of public land.