On Monday June 6, 2004 Idaho Federal Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a motion from Western Watersheds Project and issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Bureau of Land Management's Jarbidge Field office in southern Idaho which prevents the BLM from issuing any temporary non-renewable grazing permits in 2004 until the Judge determines if a permanent injunction needs to be issued.
WWP brought the lawsuit in regard to the issuance of Temporary Non-Renewable Grazing Use (TNR) on the Jarbidge Field Office because that office of the BLM issues more TNR grazing permits than any other BLM Office in the western united States (more than 70,000 AUMs every year on average).
This "temporary use" has become an annual event on the Jarbidge BLM lands, and last year WWP won a lawsuit requiring the BLM to complete analysis of the environmental effects of those permits before they could be issued again. The ranchers involved, who include the three largest public lands ranchers in Idaho (Bert and Chet Brackett and J.R. Simplot and the largest single public lands rancher in the United States, J.R. Simplot, then asked Senator Larry Craig to take action, and he succeeded in passing a special rider attached to the the 2004 Department of the Interior Appropriations Bill which mandated that the BLM issue TNR in 2004.
Unfortunately, for the BLM and the ranchers, the rider failed to relieve the BLM of complying with federal environmental laws.
Judge Winmill's TRO is the result of the BLM's failure to carry out analysis of the issuance of TNR under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and brings into question whether these very large welfare ranchers will be able to use the public lands after July 31, 2004 when their anticipated TNR use generally starts.
The reason the BLM is issuing so much "temporary" livestock grazing use in the 1.5 million acre Jarbidge Field Office is because much of the area (about 700,000 acres) has been converted to non-native grass monocultures of crested wheat grass a Siberian import used for cow fodder which can survive in areas of under 15 inches of annual precipitation.
On Monday June 14, 2004 Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint and brief in Federal District Court For Idaho asking for an immediate Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the turn-out of livestock on the 75,000 acre Lower East Fork allotment located within the 750,000 acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) in central Idaho.
The allotment includes areas proposed for permanent wilderness protection in the proposed Boulder-White Clouds legislation and provides habitat for one wolf pack and the remnant population of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep which is now reduced to less than 30 individuals.
The lawsuit was assigned to Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.
The lawsuit alleges that the Forest Service is violating its Forest Plan, the 1972 SNRA Enabling Legislation and the Upper and Lower East Fork Allotments Environmental Impact Statement which was issued in a final form in September 2003.
Western Watersheds Project anticipates a decision on the TRO request within ten days.