Western Watersheds Project has worked for several years now to protect bighorn sheep across the west. With excellent legal assistance from attorney Laurie Rule at the Boise office of Advocates for the West, Western Watersheds Project’s efforts are now showing success through an unprecedented Payette National Forest decision released on July 26, 2010.
The decision is a direct consequence of litigation brought by WWP and our conservation partners at the Hells Canyon Preservation Council.
The Payette Forest decision closes hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to grazing by domestic sheep to protect Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from fatal diseases transmitted to bighorns by domestic sheep. The total reduction in domestic sheep use on the Payette National Forest will be about 65% of currently permitted domestic sheep grazing, and the remaining use will probably become uneconomic for ranching.
This change in Forest Service management is a huge step in the right direction, and it will cause changes in domestic sheep grazing across the west as it becomes the gold-standard for protecting bighorn sheep.
Western Watersheds Project predicts that within five years all domestic sheep grazing taking place within 50 miles of bighorn sheep on public lands will be stopped !