Grazing Challenges on OR Fremont-Winema National Forests

Grazing Challenges on OR Fremont-Winema National Forests

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Oct 4, 2010

Case Title:
Oregon Natural Desert Association and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. David Sabo and U.S. Forest Service

Staff attorney(s):
Laurie Rule


Oregon Natural Desert Association

To Protect:

Oregon spotted frog

Date won/settled:
May 1, 2013


Case Information:

This case challenges the Forest Service’s authorization of grazing on the Antelope Cattle and Horse allotment of Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forests thereby violating the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”).

A unique, large complex of fens and wetlands occurs on the allotment in the midst of surrounding dry forests. These riparian areas are an oasis for many sensitive plants and animals such as rare mosses and sedges, mollusks, and the Oregon spotted frog. Many of these sensitive plant and mollusk species have been discovered on these allotment wetlands just since 2005, including two mollusk species that exist nowhere else in the world. Yet the Forest Service continued to authorize grazing without protecting these species or even conducting the necessary analyses to assess the impacts of livestock grazing despite documented harm from cattle by its own scientists.

Advocates for the West won a final victory in Oregon when U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner adopted the ruling of Magistrate Judge Clarke in our case challenging livestock grazing in central Oregon. Judge Clarke had ruled that the Forest Service was not protecting sensitive plants and wildlife found in unique wetlands of central Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest. Instead, the agency was continuing to allow cattle to trample this habitat without even doing an analysis of the impacts to these imperiled plants and animals. With Judge Panner’s ruling, Advocates for the West has achieved a final win in this case and the hope that the Forest Service will start to protect the plants and wildlife in this special setting.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Clarke ruled in our favor that the Forest Service had not done the necessary analyses to protect newly discovered sensitive species before continuing to authorize livestock grazing that trampled habitat for these species. The Judge ruled that the Forest Service had violated the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to assess the impacts of grazing on newly discovered sensitive plants and mollusks and the Oregon spotted frog even after damage from cows was documented by the agency’s own scientists.

He also ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by authorizing grazing on Round Meadow without any environmental analysis after that meadow had been closed to grazing for seven years to rehabilitate it. In response, the Forest Service reduced grazing on the allotment by 1/3 and again closed Round Meadow to grazing for the 2011 grazing season, and is in the process of completing a long-term management plan for the area.