On Wednesday September 22 , 2004 Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the federal District Court of Idaho issued an Order awarding Western Watersheds Project a victory in a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management's Challis Field Office in central Idaho's Custer County.
Judge Winmill's Order determined that the BLM failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in issuing a September 2002 decision under full force and effect that authorized livestock to graze the Burnt Creek allotment in the Pahsimeroi Valley.
The BLM decision appealed by WWP permitted fall grazing of livestock on the Burnt Creek allotment in the Burnt Creek Wilderness Study Area during the time of bull trout spawning in Burnt Creek. Bull Trout are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and are present in Burnt Creek.
On October 1, 2004 WWP received written confirmation from Challis BLM Field Office Manager Dave Rosenkrance that because of this decision, the rancher-permittee, Scott Whitworth, will not turn out livestock on the allotment as scheduled from September 30 until mid-November 2004.
Judge Winmill's Decision and Order requires the BLM to comply with the NEPA by considering a full range of alternatives in the required environmental analysis of livestock grazing for the Burnt Creek allotment. In its 2002 decision the BLM had considered only two alternatives: no change and the preferred alternative that shifted cattle use from early summer to late fall use thus placing cattle on the creek during bull trout spawning. The BLM had authorized an electric fence to be placed to prevent cattle from accessing the creek but failed to protect east and west tributaries of Burnt Creek from cattle grazing and trampling.
WWP was ably represented in this case by attorney Judi Brawer of the Boise Office of Advocates For The West (http://www.advocateswest.org/) who provided these comments after the issuance of the Order by Judge Winmill:
"This case upholds the importance of the public process in BLM's management of public lands. The Court found BLM's process was nothing more than "a foreordained formality" instead of a proper analysis of grazing management in ways that would protect the Wilderness Study and other irreplaceable natural resource values of the Burnt Creek area."
Thank you Judi!
Readers interested in reviewing Judge Winmill's Order may do so at the Idaho federal District Court web site (http://www.id.uscourts.gov/): click on Case Files, then District, then, Case File Access; then Case Files Non-restricted; then enter the Case Number: 03-314 and hit search to reach the entire case docket.
This year RangeNet is being hosted by Forest Guardians of Santa Fe, New Mexico and features as the keynote speaker Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona's 7th Congressional District.
Congressman Grijalva is the original co-sponsor (with Congressman Christopher Shays R-CT) of the National and Arizona Grazing Permit Buy-Out Legislation (H.R. 3324 and H. R. 3337). For more information on these Bills please visit the National Public Lands grazing Campaign web site: http://www.publiclandsranching.org/.
WWP looks forward to a very rewarding RangeNet Conference. Interested readers may review the agenda and other details concerning lodging and costs at the Forest guardians web site http://www.fguardians.org/events/event-rangenet_11-04.htm.
WWP is especially grateful to Billy Stern of Forest Guardians for his excellent work in developing the agenda and logistics of this year's RangeNet 2004 Conference.
To See the Agenda: http://www.fguardians.org/events/RangeNet-agenda-11-04.pdf
Grazing by domestic livestock affects more than 260 million acres in the West, and while it can be more subtle than logging or mining, it is nevertheless pervasive and often devastating to soil, waterways, and wildlife.
Become more involved and informed on this vital issue, which many see as fundamentally incompatible with other uses of publics lands, including recreation, wildlife habitat, clear water, and scenic values.
Join us to learn more about rangeland issues and to network with those who are actively working to change both national policies and local decisions by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Participate with RangeNet, a network of individuals and organizations working to improve the ecological conditions of America's public rangelands.
See this year's keynote speaker, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-D), who, along with Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT), introduced the two Voluntary Grazing Buyout Acts in Congress. If passed, these bills would allow grazing allotments to be retired, completely removing all livestock.
For further information, email Billy Stern firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 505 988-9126 ext: 151.