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Western Watersheds Project, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, has succesfully negotiated a stipulated settlement agreement that will resolve ligitation brought against the Forest Service to protect an ancient migratory route necessary for the survival of Pronghorn antelope in western Wyoming known as the "Path of the Pronghorn" !
Acknowledging the vital importance to pronghorn antelope of this 6,000 year old migratory corridor, the U.S. Forest Service has agreed to stop construction of private livestock grazing developments on public land that threaten to disrupt the pronghorns' bi-annual migration from the Red Desert to Jackson Hole, Wyoming without first conducting requisite environmental analysis.
View Path of the Pronghorn in a larger map
From the News Release:
Conservationists and the US Forest Service today signed a settlement agreement that will protect a 6,000-year-old, critical migratory corridor necessary for the survival of North America’s fastest land animal, the pronghorn. The Path of the Pronghorn is the longest remaining migration of any land mammal in the lower 48 states.
Read the News Release
Read the Agreement
Three years ago WWP filed an appeal on the Tatman Mountain and Snyder allotments in the Worland Field Office. The case was primarily focused on BLM’s complete failure to implement its own stocking rate determination or basic range science, but the BLM dragged out the process with repeated motions to dismiss. When those proved unsuccessful, the BLM asked the court to reconsider its rulings in WWP’s favor. When those were unsuccessful, the BLM filed an appeal. After nearly a year of waiting, the court ruled in WWP’s favor. The result was that the case was allowed to proceed.
The judge set the schedule for completing the second part of the hearing starting in December of 2010, but the BLM filed a motion asking that the decision be remanded. It turns out they now realized that the data WWP had collected was correct.
Instead of just granting the remand to the BLM, the judge, obviously irritated with BLM’s behavior, laid out the “long and turgid adjudicatory history” of the case and ruled against the BLM on nearly every claim.
The judge went on: “In evidentiary terms, BLM's above quoted admissions against interest, combined with the over one-thousand pages of hearing transcript and related exhibits, serve to perfect WWP's appeal on the merits… In sum BLM's final decision has no rational basis and must be reversed."
In other news from the Bighorn Basin, long-time WWP member and reitred BLM Resource Specialist Richard Kroger filed an appeal of the BLM's final decision for the South Gooseberry allotment. While having no legal experience whatsoever, Mr. Kroger convinced the judge that the decision failed to comply with wetland protection requirements.
Again, the BLM, seeing it was going to lose the case, filed for a remand of the illegal decision.
This is an excellent example of how common illegal agency decisions are and the power of one person going up against an agency and winning !
Thank you Richard, for your care for the land and your able action to protect it !