On Thursday April 12, 2001, Federal District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill denied a motion for summary judgement by LU Ranching and granted a summary judgement motion by Western Watersheds Project which concurs with a BLM decision to institute a 53% reduction in grazing use in the Cliffs Allotment in Owyhee County, Idaho.
The failed management of the 20,000 acre Cliffs allotment has been a contentious issue for decades, and finally the BLM and the federal court have taken a position to protect public resources without regard to the expense to public lands ranchers who have been abusing these public lands for over a century.
LU Ranching owner Tim Lowrey had claimed in a declaration to the court that adhering to the ordered grazing reduction last year resulted in extra costs overwhelming revenues and that the permit restrictions have "completely destroyed the economic value of not only the remaining permitted use in the Cliffs, but the entire LU ranching operation." Notwithstanding this claim, the judge denied the ranch's motion. WWP points out that with this decision in place, the BLM can reduce grazing as much as required to protect public resources without concern for the economic viability of any ranching operation.
Interestingly, the court also dismissed a claim by LU Ranching that individual BLM managers deprived the ranch of its stock water rights without procedural due process and "are hence liable for monetary damages ....".
The court decision is another in a string of clear legal messages that public lands ranching should no longer continue if public resources are being misused or degraded.
WWP was ably represented in this case by Laird Lucas and Bill Eddie and Mindy Harm of the Boise office of the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies.