Another Victory in Court


Friends of Idaho Watersheds Project:

Idaho Fifth District Court Judge Roger Burdick today (10/18/99) struck down a 1997 ruling by the Idaho Land Board which had awarded a grazing lease of 640 acres in Custer County, Idaho to a rancher who bid $10. to IWP's bid of $2,000.

In a remarkable setback for the Land Board, Judge Burdick also awarded IWP all its legal costs and attorney fees in his Order to Remand issued from the Bench.

Judge Burdick also intimated, after issuing his Order, that while he was statutorially prevented from awarding IWP the lease, he was concerned that the judiciary was blocked by the current Idaho Administrative Procedure Act (IDAPA) from so doing in this and similar cases in which the "bureaucracy" could stall indefinitely by simply carrying out illegal procedural matters over and over again while judges were prevented from cutting through their behavior to end abuses of law.

Judge Burdick, as part of his order, determined that the Land Board had acted in contravention of law and the Idaho Constitution and in an arbitrary and capricious manner and in abuse of their discretion in awarding the grazing lease to Gary Ingram.

Long term supporters of IWP will remember that this 640 acre lease which includes one mile of Lake Creek, a Chinook salmon spawning stream in critical habitat for this listed species, is the very first one applied for by IWP in September 1993 and that this is the second time an Idaho court has overturned the Idaho Land Board in regard to this lease. In 1996 the Idaho Supreme Court determined that the Land Board violated the Idaho Constitution by awarding this lease to Will Ingram even though he refused to bid at the auction. The Idaho Supreme ordered the auction which ultimately has resulted in today's decision by Judge Burdick.

IWP is grateful to our attorney, Laird Lucas of the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, who will deservedly receive the award of attorney's fees from this case.