Heartwarming Wildlife & Legal News

Online Messenger #35

Steelhead Spawning Underway At WWP's Greenfire Preserve

Over 100 ocean run steelhead trout have been observed over the last two weeks carrying out pairing, redd making, and spawning on the 1.5 miles of the East Fork of the Salmon River on WWP's Greenfire Preserve. This large anadromous rainbow trout can exceed three feet in length and 15 to 20 pounds in weight and is native to virtually every west coast river from San Diego County to the Canadian border. The very strong Salmon River run of steelhead this year stems from favorable spring flood flows four and five years ago in the Columbia River watershed and healthier ocean conditions. The fish, like their cousins, the Salmon River chinook salmon have had their numbers decrease markedly since the completion in the 1970s of four lower Snake River mainstem dams in Washington State. WWP looks forward to helping make the East Fork of the Salmon River on the Greenfire Preserve welcoming spawning habitat for these noble fish forever.

WWP Has A Major Win In Lawsuit to Stop Wildlife Killing

Less than 24 Hours after WWP and its partners, Defenders of Wildlife, the Committee for Idaho's High Desert, and the Idaho Conservation League, filed a lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order in federal District Court in Boise, Idaho, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to postpone a plan to kill foxes, badgers, coyotes, ravens and other species of wildlife in southern Idaho for one year. The lawsuit which was filed April 17 in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, challenged a federal program that aimed to kill predators throughout much of southern Idaho. The conservation groups specifically sought a restraining order preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services from implementing the newest part of their program - the elimination of animals thought to prey on sage grouse from large tracts of southern Idaho - until the judge ruled on their challenges to it.

Government lawyers agreed to voluntarily postpone their sage grouse predator elimination program until at least 2003.

This marks the second year in a row this wildlife killing plan has been stopped through legal challenges brought by WWP. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service, which participated in the environmental analysis of these programs and would have authorize and overseen implementation of the killing on public lands are also defendants in this lawsuit.

WWP and the other groups were ably represented by Todd Tucci of the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies' Boise Office.

WWP Wins Another Court Victory Against the Idaho Land Board

On April 30, 2002 Idaho 4th District Judge Deborah Bail issued a decision reversing the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners' award of the 16,000 acre Lacey Meadows grazing lease and the 5,500 acre Robinson Hole grazing lease to the low bidders. WWP had been the high bidder in both cases when auctions were held in 2000 for these large expiring Idaho school endowment land grazing leases. WWP had bid $ 8,000 and $14,000. respectively for the two ten year leases at auction significantly more than the ranching interests.

Judge Bail ordered the Land Board to reconsider the lease awards by holding a contested case hearing which would permit WWP to cross examine witnesses and to present our own experts as witnesses in the proceedings. In the past, the Land Board has ignored other information and prevented any questioning of Department of Lands' staff or testifying ranchers.

During the time these cases are reheard in an impartial way as ordered by Judge Bail, WWP will seek to prevent any livestock use of these leases. WWP's case was successfully and handily carried out by attorney Laird Lucas of Boise. Thanks, Laird!

WWP Files New Applications for Idaho Grazing Leases Expiring in 2002

In a challenge to newly adopted rules which prevent non-ranchers from applying for expiring Idaho public school endowment land grazing leases, WWP has applied for two expiring leases located in the Little Lost River watershed north of Howe, Idaho. The two leases include over 4,000 acres of endowment lands. On one, the Mulkey Bar lease, the BLM has concluded that there are the largest known number of sage grouse leks in southeast Idaho. The second lease includes over 1.5 miles of the Little Lost River which is occupied bull trout habitat. Both of the areas are degraded by current livestock use.

If the Department of Lands denies WWP's applicant status for these lands under a grazing lease, WWP has also requested that the leases be reclassified to Conservation leases for threatened wildlife protection. WWP has also offered to pay twice as much each year for the ten year lease period as current livestock use. No doubt these applications will end up in court as WWP looks forward to extending our undefeated court record against the Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho Land Board.

WWP Joins in Lawsuit Against the Grant County Public Utility District in Washington State

In a new lawsuit, WWP has joined with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources to contest the failure of the Grant County Public Utility District to consult over the operations of its two mid-Columbia River dams: Wanapum and Priest Rapids. WWP is involved because of the expertise of our lead attorney, Laird Lucas of Boise, whose reputation in water law and the Endangered Species Act extends across the west.

In violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Grant PUD has failed to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service over its dam operations which negatively affect several listed anadromous fish species. For more information about this lawsuit please contact WWP.