On Friday November 20, WWP received good news from California and initiated a long-overdue action in Montana.
In Montana, WWP filed new litigation in federal district court in Missoula that challenges the actions of the Bureau of Land Management in adopting a legally flawed Resource Management Plan for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The challenge to that plan incorporates a challenge to the first livestock grazing authorization made under that Plan for the Woodhawk allotment located on the southside of the Missouri River in the Monument.
In California, WWP was granted a Stay of a very bad BLM grazing decision for the Calcutta allotment administered by the Surprise Field Office of the California BLM. The excellent Appeal and Petition for Stay was written by WWP’s California Director Dr. Michael J. Connor. Thank you Mike !
Here are the two WWP News Releases about this good news:
MISSOULA, MONTANA – Western Watersheds Project and two of its members, outfitters Glenn Monahan and Nancy Schultz, have filed a federal lawsuit in Missoula District Court against the Bureau of Land Management challenging recent decisions over how the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument should be managed.
Their primary complaint concerns the continuation of intensive cattle grazing along the banks of the river, which has significantly altered the natural plant communities and the vast array of fish and wildlife that depend on that riparian vegetation. According to Jon Marvel, Executive Director for WWP, “Nobody who navigates this spectacularly wild and scenic river should be forced to clear cow dung in order to pitch a tent.” Monahan and Schultz are retired schoolteachers who have been leading expeditions down the river since before President Clinton declared it a National Monument in 2001.
Pygmy Rabbit and Bighorn Sheep Habitat
On Wednesday November 18, a Federal judge agreed with Western Watersheds Project and ordered the Bureau of Land Management to hold off on its decision to increase cattle grazing on the 10,260 acre Calcutta Allotment. The Calcutta Allotment is located in northwest Nevada adjacent to the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the BLM Surprise Field Office.
In his decision, Administrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer halted BLM’s decision to increase the number of cows authorized to use these public lands because Western Watersheds Project had demonstrated that the BLM had failed to consider the impacts of increased cattle numbers and new range facilities on sage grouse.
“Calcutta Allotment contains important habitat used by sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and bighorn sheep. Cattle impact these species in many ways. Cows may trample and disturb nesting sage grouse, compete for important food plants, degrade the habitat, and promote the spread of weeds and nonnative vegetation” said Michael J. Connor, California Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The BLM must take into account the true impacts to sensitive and imperiled wildlife when it makes decisions to authorize livestock grazing on our public lands.”
The appeal of the Surprise Field Office Manager’s Grazing Decision for Calcutta Allotment was brought by Western Watersheds Project’s California Office. Western Watersheds Project is demanding that the BLM complete the full environmental review that is required by law.