August 11, 2006
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project: 208-788-2290
Todd Tucci, Advocates For The West: 208-724-21426
Western Watersheds Project, the nation's leading conservation group working to protect fish and wildlife from livestock grazing throughout the West, has been granted a federal court victory through a preliminary injunction issued by federal court Idaho District Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill that stops the Bureau of Land Management from implementing any reductions in public involvement in the administration of livestock grazing on 160,000,000 acres of western public lands until WWP's litigation on the new regulations is resolved.
The federal court acknowledged in its Order issued late on August 11, 2006 that Western Watersheds Project has shown a likelihood of prevailing in its legal claims that the BLM has violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy And Management Act (FLPMA) in preparing its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the new grazing regulations. The court did not reach WWP's claims of violation of the Endangered Species Act in issuing the injunction.
In his Order (page 18) Judge Winmill states:
The Court finds that WWP has a strong argument that the FEIS violates NEPA and FLPMA by (1) improperly minimizing the detrimental effects of the changes on public input, and (2) failing to contain information from which the Court and public could evaluate the limitations on public input contained in the new regulations. Moreover, WWP has shown the necessary possibility of irreparable harm. The public input of groups like WWP will be limited, as discussed above, and irreparable harm could result from the BLM making decision(s) without the full public input mandated by NEPA.
The enjoined regulations would have enabled massive reductions in public involvement in the administration of livestock production on 160,000,000 acres of western public lands while providing for more control by ranchers of the use of public lands.
Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project said: "This is another victory blocking the Bush administrations agenda of privatizing public lands for the benefit of a the very few. Considering the language in this District Court decision, the BLM is at risk if it chooses to implement any of the new grazing regulations."
Western Watersheds Project is ably represented in this important litigation by Advocates For The West's Boise Office including attorneys Laurie Rule, Laird Lucas and Todd Tucci.
Look at the relevant legal documents (PDF files):
Opening Brief in Support of Immediate Injunction for ESA Violations
Opening Brief in Support of Immediate Injunction for NEPA Violations
Motion for Immediate Injunction for NEPA Violations
Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint
First Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief