Conservation Groups File Grazing Lawsuit to Stop Cattle Turn-Out in Malheur County, Oregon

Online Messenger #2

On Wednesday March 14, 2001 Western Watersheds Project (WWP), the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and the Committee for Idaho's High Desert (CIHD) filed a complaint in federal district court in Portland, Oregon to require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to implement the Bully Creek Land Area Management Plan grazing decision (LAMP) which was made final in October of 2000. The groups are also filing a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction to prevent livestock turn-out on the Bully Creek Allotments unless the BLM complies with the law.

The LAMP decision affects over 268,000 acres and more than 20 grazing allotments on public land in the Bully Creek watershed in Malheur County near Vale, Oregon including an 18,000 acre Wilderness Study Area, two Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and the South Fork of Indian Creek which is eligible for Wild and Scenic River status. These lands are acknowledged by the BLM to be in unacceptable condition with over 77% of the riparian areas in non-functioning or functioning-at-risk condition. The public lands provide habitat for elk, deer, redband trout and the threatened sage grouse. Under BLM regulations the Bully Creek LAMP decision must be implemented before the start of the next grazing year which was March 1, 2001. The decision, if implemented, would reduce livestock grazing significantly because of the imposition of annual measurable standards of use including riparian stubble height requirements and other permit terms and conditions never before required of public land ranchers in Malheur County. According to BLM staff, considerable political pressure from the local county court in Malheur County and other local politicians has been brought to prevent the LAMP decision from being implemented.

WWP, ONDA, and CIHD are represented by Laird Lucas of Boise and Stephanie Parent of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center of Portland, Oregon.