Federal Court Modifies Injunction Removing Livestock From 450,000 Acres of Sage-Grouse Habitat On Public Lands in SW Idaho

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On July 22, 2011 Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for Idaho issued a disappointing decision modifying a previous court order in favor of Western Watersheds Project enjoining livestock grazing on allotments covering over 450,000 acres of public land in the Jarbidge Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management in southern Idaho.

Read the Order

The 17 allotments subject to this modified injunction contain some of the most important remaining habitat for sage grouse, desert bighorn sheep, the threatened plant species slickspot peppergrass as well as native redband trout, pygmy rabbits and pronghorn antelope.

Judge Winmill's partial lifting of his previous injunction is troubling to Western Watersheds Project in that livestock grazing can now be returned to these allotments subject only to discretionary management limitations imposed by the Bureau of Land Management.

While Judge Winmill did direct the agency to consider stopping all livestock grazing from March 1 until June 20 and from August 1 until November 15 to better protect sage grouse lekking, nesting and brood rearing habitat needs, he did not mandate that the BLM do so.

Judge Winmill did maintain the court's judicial oversight of the partial injunction especially in regard to riparian monitoring. Western Watersheds Project will continue to be vigilant in seeing that the BLM carries out its required monitoring of streams and upland riparian areas including seeps and springs.

Western Watersheds Project would like to thank our excellent legal counsel in this matter Todd Tucci of Advocates For The West in Boise and WWP Biodiversity Director Katie Fite and WWP NEPA Coordinator Ken Cole for their hard and often unrewarded work in the Jarbidge Field Office.

Thank you !

Jon Marvel
Executive Director