Bighorn Sheep — Hells Canyon and Salmon River
Victory for Payette National Forest’s bighorn sheep!
June 14, 2012
How can you help?
- Let congress know you don’t want more bighorn sheep riders next year!
- Make a gift to Advocates for the West today! Your support keeps our team strong to protect the West’s public lands, water and wildlife!
A Big, Big Bonehead…
Matt Wuerker, Laird Lucas’s college buddy and Politico cartoonist, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Check out Matt’s latest cartoon on bighorn sheep and ID Rep. Mike Simpson’s Congressional rider. Read more about our working protecting bighorn sheep in Idaho’s Payette Forest.
Update on bighorn sheep in Idaho
After gaining significant protections for bighorn sheep on the Payette National Forest due to Advocates for the West’s prior litigation in this case and the Forest Service’s own subsequent analysis, the Forest Service is now back-tracking and authorizing grazing in 2012 that puts bighorn sheep populations in the Salmon River Canyon at risk.
In a decision from July 2010, the Forest Service decided to close 70% of the Payette National Forest to domestic sheep use to protect bighorn sheep populations.
Now, instead of closing allotments that were scheduled to be closed this year, the Forest Service has misinterpreted a Congressional appropriations rider and is allowing domestic sheep to graze those allotments this summer. Advocates for the West filed a preliminary injunction motion in Court to stop this grazing and require the Forest Service to act consistently with its own Plan and protect the native Salmon River bighorn populations.
Payette National Forest Issues Decision to Close Domestic Sheep Allotments
The Payette National Forest has issued its final EIS and Record of Decision that closes 70% of the domestic sheep allotments on the forest to protect bighorn sheep populations in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyon. This decision is the culmination of efforts by Advocates for the West and our clients to achieve protection for bighorn sheep in these areas by permanent closure of domestic sheep allotments within bighorn sheep habitat. Numerous groups have appealed this decision, and Advocates for the West will likely be back in Court to continue the fight to protect bighorn sheep.
Payette FSEIS and ROD
Federal judge rules to protect bighorn sheep
Advocates wins a ruling in U.S. District Court protecting bighorn sheep. Judge Lynn Winmill ordered a western Idaho rancher to not graze domestic sheep on his BLM allotment. The decision will protect wild bighorn sheep from catching deadly diseases which pose dire risks to entire bighorn populations.
We brought this case in March 2007 to prevent the Forest Service from authorizing domestic sheep grazing in allotments on Payette and Nez Perce National Forests that pose a “high risk” of spreading diseases that kill Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, which are native to the Hells Canyon and Salmon River region of central Idaho. Our litigation relies on science from the Forest Service and other agencies documenting that domestic sheep spread fatal diseases to bighorn sheep; yet political pressure prevented the agency from closing the allotments to protect the bighorn sheep populations.
In response to several injunction motions we filed, the Forest Service temporarily closed the allotments to sheep grazing; and is undertaking a new EIS process to close them permanently.