The Board of Directors of Idaho Watersheds Project (IWP) announces a change in the name of IWP to Western Watersheds Project (WWP). The Board also adopted a revised mission statement to reflect the change in geographic emphasis of WWP: "Working to protect and restore Western watersheds by educational outreach, public policy initiatives, litigation, and by ending incompatible uses of public lands." WWP also announces the new WWP web site: www.westernwatersheds.org and email: firstname.lastname@example.org. WWP will also be taking on as a special project the continuance of the RangeNet web site: www.rangenet.org. That site will continue to be managed by Larry Walker for WWP.
This change is a reflection of the public lands work WWP has taken on in states outside Idaho as well as a broader west wide focus on public policy related to the use of public lands. As part of these efforts WWP is entering into long-term partnerships with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and with Willow Creek Ecology in Utah, Sinapu in Colorado, the Gallatin Wildlife Association in Montana, and the Sagebrush Sea Alliance made up of several groups in Nevada to influence and litigate the management of water diversions and public lands ranching in those states. WWP is also assisting the Utah Environmental Congress in their Utah State School Trust Land lease acquisition initiative.
WWP is also joining with several western regional groups including the Oregon Natural Desert Association of Bend, Oregon; Forest Guardians of Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, Arizona, the Committee for Idaho's High Desert of Boise, Idaho; the American Lands Alliance of Washington, D.C, and Andy Kerr of Ashland, Oregon. With these groups WWP has formed a National Public Land Grazing Campaign to support federal legislation to permit the voluntary retirement of grazing permits with federal funding.
WWP is also assisting another coordinated effort to establish a protocol for permanently retiring federal grazing permits with private or public financing. Recently WWP has been contacted by several federal grazing permittees who are willing to give up their grazing permits in return for a transition payment; WWP will be pursuing the successful retirement of those permits this year.
These initiatives along with our management of Greenfire Ranch on the East Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho and our ongoing litigation actions in three states with WWP's attorney, Laird Lucas, and the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the Idaho Constitution are a full plate of actions all of which are geared toward ending public lands ranching and recovering the health of all Western watersheds.
On Tuesday March 13, 2001, the Idaho Land Board awarded the 5500 acre Robinson Hole school endowment land grazing lease to the low bidder, Pickett Ranch and Sheep Company who had bid $13,000 to WWP's $14,000 at the auction last October 3, 2000. According to the Idaho department of Lands staff report, WWP's proposal not to graze the lease for ten years would result in the probability of catastrophic wild fire, loss of plant vigor, and extra management costs to the State! WWP intends to pursue court action to overturn this decision.