New And Expanded Litigation Filed By WWP

Online Messenger #92

Western Watersheds Project has expanded its filings on a major case in Nevada and has filed a new lawsuit In Idaho to block the destruction of over 28,000 acres of Pinon-Juniper forest by the BLM.

In Nevada

On December 29, 2004 WWP filed a motion for injunctive relief before Federal District Judge Howard McKibben in Reno asking that grazing of domestic livestock be stopped on over 1,200,000 acres of BLM managed lands in northern Nevada. Alternatively WWP has asked the Court to enforce interim grazing management that would significantly restrict livestock grazing over the same landscape in the event the Court decides not to implement a full injunction against livestock grazing on the three very large allotments in question (Sheep Complex, Big Springs, and Owyhee).

Readers of WWP's Online Messenger will recall that earlier in 2004 Judge McKibben ruled in favor of WWP in a lawsuit on these three allotments. Judge McKibben ordered the BLM to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by completing an Environmental impact Statement addressing numerous aspects of livestock grazing impacts on wildlife and ecosystem health. At that time the Judge did not order any interim management during the pendency of the work to complete the EIS.

WWP anticipates that whatever Judge McKibben decides about the Injunction Motion, that this case may establish important precedent at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and could result in the temporary or long-term closure of over one million acres of public lands in Elko County, Nevada to livestock use.

WWP is ably represented in this case by our lead attorney, Laird Lucas of Advocates For The West in Boise and local Counsel in Reno, Nevada, Henry Egghart. WWP anticipates posting the filings on the WWP web site shortly.

In Cassia County, Idaho

Today's Twin Falls, Idaho Times-News (January 6, 2005) carries a story about Western Watersheds Project's recently filed litigation (filed on December 29, 2004) to block the destruction of 28,000 acres of pinon-juniper in the Jim Sage Hills in southern Cassia County, Idaho near the Utah border. The total project area is about 135,000 acres.

WWP anticipates filing of a Motion for injunctive Relief to block further implementation of this destructive project in a few days.

The story is entitled Juniper removal sparks debate ... Environmental group sues to halt practice and can be reviewed at this URL:

The BLM completed a cursory Environmental Assessment in approving this remarkably expensive project that is anticipated to cost as much as $6,000,000. While the project is couched in words describing an environmentally benign effort to improve sage grouse habitat and restore native sage-steppe vegetation, the real reason for the project is already clear as the BLM starts to issue decisions to increase livestock use on the several allotments in the project area.

The BLM already has completed chaining about 2,000 acres of pinon-juniper on both public and adjacent private lands in Cottonwood Canyon on the south-east side of the Jim Sage Hills. The pinon pine growing in this area is the furthest north population in the U.S.

WWP is again ably represented in this litigation by Judi Brawer of the Boise office of Advocates For The West.