Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Western Watersheds Project Wins Stays Blocking Implementation of Four BLM Decisions

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Posted: July 31, 2012 by R.T. Fitch

By Katie Fite, Biodiversity Director of WWP
Western Watersheds & Judges Continue Attack on Welfare Ranchers
Western Watersheds Project (WWP) has received notification that Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer of the Department of Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals granted four Stays halting Bureau of Land Management grazing decisions on 48,000 acres of public land in the Grouse Creek, Meadow Creek, Rock Creek and Trail Creek Allotments in the Pahsimeroi River Watershed of central Idaho. The allotments are located in critical habitat for Greater sage-grouse whose numbers have been declining for many years in central Idaho.
In issuing these now-Stayed grazing decisions, BLM’s Challis Field Office greatly mis-represented the conditions of Greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit, and aquatic habitats on the allotments. Instead of curtailing the impacts of existing levels of livestock use of the public lands, BLM sought to maintain the destructive levels of grazing by developing water pipelines, fences and other industrial infrastructure that degrades wildlife habitat, introduces weeds, and otherwise diminishes the natural values on these public lands.
The Stayed Bureau of Land Management grazing decisions for these four allotments followed a previous Western Watersheds Project victory in 2011 in which Judge Edward J. Lodge of the Idaho federal district court agreed with Western Watersheds Project and overturned earlier BLM grazing decisions for the same allotments.
Western Watersheds Project’s campaign to bring better management for watershed health and wildlife habitat in Idaho’s Pahsimeroi River watershed is finally changing many decades of mismanaged livestock grazing thereby protecting wilderness values and wildlife habitat including lands essential for the survival of Greater sage-grouse,Chinook salmon and Bull trout.
Also in the Pahsimeroi River watershed, Western Watersheds Project secured in 2010 another court victory protecting wilderness values on the Burnt Creek Allotment.
Special thanks for this collective effort are due are due Kenneth Cole – WWP’s NEPA Coordinator, Alex Brott – WWP’s Summer Intern from Whitman College, and Jon Marvel – WWP’s Executive Director.

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