January News from WWP

Online Messenger #72

Mad Cows May Be In Idaho

This week federal Department of Agriculture investigators tracked one cow from the Canadian herd identified as the source of the Washington State mad cow to a dairy in Cassia County, Idaho near Burley.

The cow died last spring, apparently without evidence of the disease, the AG department is continuing its investigation of the dairy herd which may, according to reports, have two other cows from the same Canadian herd in the dairy.

Only 26 of the 81 cows shipped from Canada to the United States have been located to date. The 5000 head dairy herd in Cassia county is being monitored for any evidence of the presence of mad cow disease.

Slickspot Peppergrass Listing denied By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had denied Western Watersheds Project's petition to list Slickspot Peppergrass. (see their news release at this URL: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/r1/15082C3D-EB4A-474B-890181C395ADFA6D....)

This species is limited to a very few locations in the Snake River Plain in southern Idaho and has diminished in number dramatically in the last twenty years due to livestock grazing and trampling, exotic invading plant species, fire, all-terrain vehicles and military training exercises.

The Fish and Wildlife Service originally proposed listing this species under the Endangered Species Act, but after much lobbying by vested interests and opposition from Bush administration appointees, the agency has reversed the earlier recommendation of its biologists.

WWP anticipates litigating the rule denying this listing which was heavily influenced by political pressure from public land ranchers,the Idaho Congressional delegation, and the Office of Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

General Accounting Office (GAO) To Investigate The Federal Grazing Program

WWP has learned of this study from the National Public Land Grazing Campaign's Washington, D.C. representative Justin Baca. Thank you Justin!

"We have just received word that the General Accounting Office (GAO) has agreed to conduct a study scope and costs of grazing on our federal lands. This study will help stir the debate over the federal grazing program and will add speed to the passage of the Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout bills now introduced in Congress.

The study -- which should begin in approximately three months -- would not have been possible without the support of several honorable members of Congress. Please take a minute to thank these offices for supporting the request to the GAO.

Special thanks should be directed to Congressman Shays (CT) and Congressman Grijalva (AZ) who really took the initiative. Thanks should also go to Reps. Rahall (WV), Blumenauer (WA), Holt (NJ) and McDermott (WA). These members can be contacted as indicated below. Please take a few minutes to let them know you appreciate their leadership.

* Rep. Shays: email form online at:

* Rep. Grijalva: phone numbers and addresses at:

* Rep. Rahall: phone numbers and addresses at:

* Rep. Blumenauer: email form online at:

* Rep. Holt: email form online at:

* Rep. McDermott: email form online at:

Please Join Us At The Western Watersheds Project Open House February 28, 2004 At Our New Office in Hailey

Western Watersheds Project has moved its headquarters to a new, more prominent office location in downtown Hailey, Idaho. The new office is Suite B-2 at 126 South Main Street in the E.G. Willis Building.

To celebrate this new and improved location WWP will be holding an Open House party from 5:00-7:30 P.M. Saturday February 28, 2004. There will be music, food, and drink.

Please consider stopping by to celebrate the new WWP office and meet the staff and board.

50,000,000 acres of Patagonia Destroyed By Sheep Grazing

The January issue of National Geographic Magazine includes an informative article about Patagonia. The article notes the destructive nature (described in the article as genocidal) of sheep ranching on native Americans, wildlife, and 50,000,000 acres of lands which are now considered to be so desertified by sheep grazing as to be useless for anything.

Take a look at the article at this web site: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0401/feature3/index.html

Bureau of Land Management Proposes New Grazing Regulations and Publishes A Draft Environmental Impact statement To Go With Them

In mid-December 2003, the Bush administration's Department of the Interior issued draft grazing regulations for 170,000,000 acres of public lands administered by the BLM which change and amend BLM grazing regulations approved in 1995 by the Clinton administration.

The proposed new rules drastically alter and reduce public involvement, give title to installations and water rights on public lands to private ranchers, and ensure that necessary management changes are delayed almost indefinitely if the BLM determines that livestock grazing is causing a failure to comply with minimum standards for uplands and riparian areas on public lands across the West.

All in all these proposed rules represent an enormous roll back of environmental protection of our public lands, and are to be expected in the context of President Bush's environmental record.

Interested readers can review the proposed rules and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) at these two URLs:

WWP will be providing extensive comments on these proposed rules and the DEIS by the March 2, 2004 deadline for comments, but at this time WWP does not recommend that readers send in comments to the BLM.

There are two reasons for not responding to these proposed rules: 1. WWP anticipates litigating these rules when they are finalized later this year, and 2. the Bush administration listens only to ranchers and their allies when it comes to public comment.

WWP suggests readers contact their Congressional Representatives and their Senators (instead of the BLM) to object to these rule changes and to the Bush administration's general attack on the environment and environmental law and regulations put into place over the last 35 years by non-partisan agreement.

WWP Welcomes New Employees

Western Watersheds Project welcomes three new employees to our staff.

Mandy Loving of Hailey has been hired to do administrative tasks half-time. Mandy lives in Hailey with her husband, Tyler and their daughter, Trinity.

Bill McDorman, a native of Ketchum, Idaho, will be working half time on membership management and outreach. Bill is a Mac expert who owns and operates a wonderful garden seed supply business: High Altitude Gardens. His business web site is:
http://www.seedstrust.com. Bill and Mandy began work January 12, 2004.

On February 3, 2004 Faith Wellman will begin work as WWP's Director of Fund Development. Faith is living in Hailey and has years of fundraising experience in many places in the west including Flagstaff, Eugene, Kemmerer, Bozeman and Reno. Her husband, Jan, was recently hired as the City Manager of Sun Valley, Idaho.

Welcome Faith, Mandy and Bill!