Western Watersheds Project's work in Wyoming is bringing a much needed reprieve to public landscapes, wildlife, and habitat after decades of abusive grazing.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of WWP's Wyoming Director Jonathan Ratner and the many supporters, members, and volunteers in Wyoming, BLM is being forced to incorporate lawful regard for wildlife, water, and the environment in its grazing management decisions.
Two recent cases exemplify the unique character of the public landscapes involved, and WWP's success at bringing much over-due attention to the wildlife that inhabit them:
Last week Judge Harvey Sweitzer ruled against the BLM and remanded a Bureau of Land Management decision to construct 32 miles of new fencing within the South Pass Historic ACEC and the Continental Peak Wilderness Study Area. In addition, the decision would have cut the Continental Peak Wild Horse Herd Management Area in half. The decision, which covered the 92,000 acre Continental Peak allotment near the southern tip of the Wind River Range, would have also completed a conversion of the allotment from sheep to cattle, a dire prospect for riparian habitat, despite the already degraded state of these important wildlife areas.
The Environmental Assessment failed to take into consideration that the allotment is made up of highly erosive soils especially susceptible to grazing impact. WWP is pleased with Judge Sweitzer's determination that the BLM’s decision violated the law and must be overturned.
WWP has been contesting livestock management on the 520,000 acre Green Mountain Common allotment located south of Jeffrey City, Wyoming for more than a decade.
A few weeks ago Judge Sweitzer ruled in favor of WWP’s Petition for Stay. Last week Judge Sweitzer vacated the decision and directed the BLM to start over. The BLM's decision would have extended the failed status quo management in addition to constructing 32 miles of new fencing in an area that is currently the largest unfenced landscape on public lands in the American West.
The same degradation of riparian areas and rampant trespass is occurring this year as in previous years. WWP is taking action to force the BLM to correct these environmental problems.
TUCSON, Ariz.— Conservation groups sent a letter to the Obama administration today detailing how the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service can meet the president’s June 8 directive to cut 5 percent from agency budgets: reform or eliminate the money-losing, habitat-destroying public lands livestock grazing program. “Instead of trimming the budget, the agencies should start by cutting their losses,” said Greta Anderson, Arizona director of Western Watersheds Project. “The fee has failed to keep pace with inflation, failed to cover even the administrative costs of operating the grazing program, and incentivizes destructive grazing practices on public land. In a time of budget crisis, it makes good economic sense to address these issues.”