On Thursday May 10, 2001 Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and the Wyoming Outdoor Council (WOC) filed a complaint in Wyoming Federal District Court in Cheyenne to block livestock turn-out on the 90,000 acre Smiths Fork allotment managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The groups also filed motions for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction against any BLM authorization of grazing use on public lands in the allotment until the case can be adjudicated. A hearing on the temporary restraining order will be heard before Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer on Monday May 14, at 2:00 P.M.
Interestingly, Judge Brimmer is the Federal District Court Judge who issued the initial ruling in the Public Lands Council v. Babbitt case. In that case Judge Brimmer overturned most of Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt's Range Reform regulations implemented in 1995. Later all but one point (conservation non-use) of Judge Brimmer's decision in that case was overturned by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals whose decision was upheld in its entirety by a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2000.
The Smiths Fork allotment has a notorious history of remarkable degradation of public lands for as long as BLM records have been kept. The allotment currently has 20 livestock operators who hold 21 grazing permits for 8872 cattle AUMs and 5138 AUMs for sheep. It encompasses the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area which includes the well-known Raymond Canyon area. The allotment also has many creeks including Raymond Creek, Huff Creek, Thomas Fork, and Mill Creek which provide habitat for native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, a species which has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The BLM's own documents rate the condition of this allotment as the worst out of 204 allotments in the BLM's Kemmerer Field Office, and yet the agency has proposed to authorize more livestock use than was permitted in 2000, a year when cattle were ordered off the allotment six weeks early because of severe riparian degradation. The Complaint filed by WWP and WOC describes with great thoroughness the failure of the BLM to take action to protect public resources from irreparable harm caused by cattle and sheep use of public lands.
The groups are ably represented in this case by attorney Tom Darin of the Wyoming Outdoor Council with assistance from attorney Bill Eddie of Boise, Idaho.