The Opportunity of a New Year

WWP Online Messenger # 146

The Opportunity Of A New Year And New Leadership In Washington D.C. !

With one month of the new year already passed, and with the Obama administration at work for two weeks, WWP has brought expanded legal pressure on the archaic public lands management decisions of the Bush administration with the goal of working with the Obama administration to cooperatively bring beneficial change on public lands that continue to be degraded by poor management and inappropriate uses.

WWP is hopeful that we will see more change in the management of western public lands in the next few years than has occurred in the past 30 years.

Western Watersheds Project Updates And Improves The WWP Web Site.

WWP encourages all readers to visit the updated and improved WWP web site http://www.westernwatersheds.org . Take a tour around the new look with expanded information about the work of Western Watersheds Project across the west.

WWP will be adding more and more information about each state where we work now that the new formatting of the web pages is in place. Please stop back often for timely updates of everything WWP is doing.

WWP is grateful to our media Director Brian Ertz for his hard work updating the WWP web site. Here’s the lead photo from the new Idaho page at the WWP’s web site. It shows the Stanley Basin with Eclipse Hill and the Sawtooth Mountains in the background. Thanks to Lynne Stone for allowing the use of her great photo !

 

Stanley Basin and the Sawtooth Mountains 2008
Stanley Basin and the Sawtooth Mountains 2008

 

WWP Joins In Litigation In Montana To Overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2008 10J Rule for Managing Northern Rockies Wolves

On February 2, 2009 Western Watersheds Project along with a number of other conservation groups filed our opening brief in federal district court in Montana to challenge the latest 10J Rule adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the population of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains.

This Rule was adopted in 2008 in order to make killing wolves much easier in the event that the delisting of Northern Rocky wolves was enjoined by the federal court in WWP’s other wolf litigation, something which did in fact occur. WWP and our sister groups seek to block the 2008 10J Rule and return management to the former Rule that provided significantly more protection for wolves.

WWP is ably represented in this litigation by Jenny Harbine and Doug Honnold of Earthjustice's Bozeman, Montana office. Thanks Doug and Jenny !

To read the Brief in support of Summary Judgment in this case and for much more detail about the very complex wolf management controversy please visit WWP’s wolf page at our web site.  The Brief itself is displayed at this WWP web page.

Here are rare photos of Idaho wolves with the generous permission of the photographer, Lynne Stone.

 

Phantom Hill Pack puppies 2008
Phantom Hill Pack puppies 2008

 

 

Basin Butte Pack 2007
Basin Butte Pack 2007

 

WWP Wins Litigation Against the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in Regard to Livestock Grazing on the Quilomene/Whiskey Dick Wildlife Areas Near Ellensburg in Central Washington.

On January 28, 2009 Western Watersheds Project won an important victory in Washington state preventing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife from leasing Whiskey Dick and Quilomene Wildlife Areas to livestock grazing without the state first completing environmental analysis.  Whiskey Dick and Quilomene Wildlife Areas had been ungrazed for decades after being acquired by Washington state to preserve Chinook salmon, bull trout, elk, and other wildlife habitat.  Whiskey Dick and Quilomene is a landscape providing critical habitat, among the last sage-steppe in good condition in Washington state, and is important as a likely corridor between the two remaining sage-grouse populations in Washington.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham issued the ruling in favor of Dr. Steve Herman and Western Watersheds Project when the Judge decided that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife cannot avoid conducting environmental analysis when issuing grazing permits on its state wildlife areas when those wildlife areas have not been leased for over 10 years. WDFW and the Washington Cattleman's Association had argued that a 'verbal lease' constituted a lease of Whiskey Dick/Quilomene Wildlife Areas within the previous 10 years allowing the state to issue an exemption from the requirement to perform the required environmental analysis.

The decision will prevent the state of Washington from unwise and hasty decisions to expand grazing without environmental analysis on wildlife areas throughout the state, including the Blue Mountain Area Wildlife Complex in Asotin County. Thanks to WWP member Dr.  Steve Herman and to WWP’s legal counsel Kristin Ruether of Advocates of the West ( http://www.advocateswest.org ) for their wonderful efforts. Here is a link to a story about the Court order from the February 2, 2009 Yakima Herald-Republic:

http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2009/02/02/court-faults-fish-and-wi...

To see much more information about the importance and beauty of the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area including photo slide shows, a map of sage grouse habitat in Washington State and the Superior Court decision please visit these web pages at the WWP web site:

http://www.westernwatersheds.org/washington/sage-grouse-distribution
http://www.westernwatersheds.org/washington/whiskey-dick-habitat-slideshow
http://www.westernwatersheds.org/washington/whiskey-dick-wildflower-slid...
http://westernwatersheds.org/legal/whiskey-dick_09-opinion

 

Ungrazed Sage-steppe Landscape in the Washington State Quilomene/Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area - © Katie Fite, WWP

 

WWP Files 60-day Notice Letters With The Forest Service And The US Fish & Wildlife Service To Protect Three Threatened Fish Species And Pygmy Rabbits.

In January 2009 Western Watersheds Project filed four 60-day Notice Letters to the US Forest Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service in regard to failures to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Three of the Notice Letters were sent on January 26, 2009 address Forest Service authorization of livestock grazing that negatively impacts streams that provide habitat for Bull Trout, Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead, all species that are protected by the ESA.  These letters address grazing mismanagement on the Camas Creek and Pass Creek Allotments of the Salmon-Challis National Forest as well as the Smiley Creek and Fisher Creek Allotments of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area of the Sawtooth National Forest.

The fourth Notice Letter of January 16, 2009 references the failure of the US Fish & Wildlife Service to comply with a federal court order to complete a 90-day Finding on WWP's Petition to List the Pygmy Rabbit under the protections of the Endangered Species Act. This tiny rabbit is threatened across its range in the American west by livestock grazing, powerline developments and wind farms.

Thanks to attorneys Kristin Ruether and Todd Tucci of Advocates For The West who are representing WWP in these potential cases to enforce the Endangered Species Act.

Interested readers can read all four 60 day Notice letters at the WWP web site: http://www.westernwatersheds.org where they are linked off the home page.

Bull Trout
Bull Trout
Pygmy Rabbits
Pygmy Rabbits

 

WWP Re-litigates Domestic Sheep Grazing on the Sawtooth National Forest’s Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area

On January 26, 2009 WWP filed an amended Complaint in federal District Court to contest domestic sheep grazing on 200,000 acres of the Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area of the Sawtooth National Forest. Readers interested in reading the Complaint will find that file on the WWP web site:

http://www.westernwatersheds.org/legal/north-sheep

WWP is represented in this litigation by attorney Laurie Rule of Advocates For The West. Thank you Laurie !

This case is a continuation of litigation over domestic sheep grazing filed three years ago.  The new litigation contends that the Sawtooth National Forest remains in violation of the law after completing a court-ordered Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for four large sheep grazing allotments. WWP would like to see then end of domestic sheep grazing in central Idaho because of the negative impacts to native fish habitat and to the recovery of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (because of disease transmission from domestic sheep to bighorns), on the spread of noxious weeds by domestic sheep and because of the risk to humans of Q Fever, a dangerous airborne disease found in pulverized domestic sheep waste.

Domestic sheep grazing is heavily subsidized and yet continues to be an inconsequential part of western states’ economies.

Western Watersheds Project Completes 2008 Report on Livestock Grazing on the Lost River Ranger District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest

WWP has completed an extensive Report displaying a series of tables and charts of quantitative data as well as many photographs of 2008 livestock grazing impacts on the Lost River Ranger District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The Report covers areas on six large grazing allotments: Copper Basin, Antelope Creek, Wildhorse, Boone Creek, Leadbelt and Pass Creek. The report was prepared by WWP’s excellent 2008 central Idaho field monitors, David Stilwill, Beth Pearson and Nick Bright. Thanks to all of them !

The Report catalogs livestock use in mesic meadows averaging over 90% use of available forage and leaving less than 3 inches of residual stubble height of hydric species along streams. Both levels of average use violate the Forest Plan as well as other federal Rules.

The entire 20 MB Report and links to many more photos of negative livestock grazing impacts to streams and riparian areas in central Idaho from the 2008 season can be found on the WWP web site http://www.westernwatersheds.org/research-reports

 

 

Big Creek, Little Lost River Watershed - Central Idaho
Big Creek, Little Lost River Watershed - Central Idaho

 

Western Watersheds Project Is A West Regional Conservation Organization Working To Protect And Restore Western Watersheds And Wildlife