Rancher Judge Blows Off the BLM


On Wednesday May 31, 2000, United States District Judge Edward J. Lodge for the District of Idaho issued a Temporary Restraining Order stopping the implementation of a decision to cut grazing on the Cliffs Allotment by 53% in the Owyhee Resource Area of the BLM in Owyhee County, Idaho.

Judge Lodge acted without any court hearing whatsoever and acted solely on the basis of information provided by three public land ranching permittees provided three days before the Order. He restored both the numbers of livestock and the season of use in place in previous years without regard for the impacts and identified irreparable harm to public resources caused by the permittees' cattle on this extraordinarily degraded BLM allotment. The three ranchers in question had chosen not to appeal the BLM's final decision of this past winter through the arcane process of the Department of the Interior's Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA).

Remarkably enough, Judge Lodge was, until recently, a public lands grazing permittee himself on the well-named Lodge Allotment on the Malheur Resource Area of the BLM's infamous Vale District in eastern Oregon. His brother, Norman "Tubbo" Lodge, may still be a grazing permittee on the Schnable Allotment in the same Malheur Resource Area with over 1200 AUMs of welfare handout AUMs.

With the assistance of the Boise office of the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, Idaho Watersheds Project will file a motion for intervenor status in this lawsuit. IWP's participation will make it possible, perhaps once and for all, for a federal court determination (albeit at the Ninth Circuit level) that will make absolutely clear that holding a grazing permit that is reduced or eliminated because of the ongoing destruction of public land streams and critical wildlife habitat does not give some compensable right to public land ranchers: the destroyers of public lands.