Grouse, Meadow, Rock, Trail Creek grazing allotments

Grouse, Meadow, Rock, Trail Creek grazing allotments

Current Status:
WON

Case Title:
Western Watersheds Project v. Rosenkrance, No. 09-cv-298 (D. Idaho)

Staff attorney(s):
Laurie Rule

Client(s):

Western Watersheds Project

To Protect:

Bull Trout
Greater Sage Grouse
Pygmy Rabbit

Date won/settled:
January 5, 2011

States:
Idaho

Updates:

Another court victory in the Pahsimeroi Valley
Advocates for the West has won another court victory protecting public lands in the Pahsimeroi Valley.

Four grazing allotments on your public land in central Idaho’s stunning Pahsimeroi Valley were under scrutiny in this case.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) authorized grazing permits on Trail, Grouse, Meadow and Rock Creek allotments without conducting the thorough study of the impacts required by law.  Advocates for the West brought this case on behalf of Western Watersheds Project.

The Honorable Judge Lodge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho agreed with us on all three of our claims: that BLM violated the law by not analyzing the impacts to endangered bull trout, by refusing to consider a no- or low- grazing alternative when evaluating the impacts, and by failing to study the cumulative impacts of grazing in the area.

As the Court put it:  “NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requires BLM decision makers to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of their decisions; it does not allow BLM to rubber stamp applications in order to maintain the status quo. . . . When, as here, BLM disregards the law, it disregards the public interest and undermines its own credibility.” 

The Court ordered BLM to develop a new Environmental Assessment (EA) and new grazing decisions within one year or grazing cannot continue.

“This decision is important because it requires BLM to take another look at the negative impacts grazing causes to bull trout and sage-grouse in this beautiful area.  The effects of grazing need to be thoroughly analyzed, without shortcuts,” said Kristin Ruether, Advocates for the West’s attorney on the case.

Thank you to WWP’s Katie Fite and Larry Zuckerman for their expertise and dedication on this case.

Upper Salmon Litigation

THREE NEW CASES FILED TO PROTECT PAHSIMEROI AND LEMHI WATERSHEDS.

Advocates for the West filed three new cases in June and July 2009 for client Western Watersheds Project, suing the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over their legal violations in managing public lands in the Pahsimeroi and Lemhi watersheds of central Idaho.

The Pahsimeroi and Lemhi watersheds offer vital habitat for endangered fish – including salmon, steelhead and bull trout — as well as sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and other sagebrush species.  Yet the federal agencies continue to authorize livestock grazing and grazing-related water developments and diversions without accounting for the harms they cause to these imperiled species and their habitats.  These three cases are the first of a suite of lawsuits aimed at improving habitat conditions in the Upper Salmon basin.

Case Filings

Case Information:

This case challenges BLM decisions allowing grazing and construction of numerous livestock watering troughs and fences in the Grouse Creek, Meadow Creek, Trail Creek, and Rock Creek allotments, located in the Pahsimeroi watershed of central Idaho.

This area is prime sage-grouse habitat, and the Pahsimeroi River within the Rock Creek allotment is home to endangered bull trout.  Much of this habitat has been degraded by livestock.  Yet BLM is now expanding the livestock watering and fencing system further into sage grouse areas — without assessing environmental impacts as required by NEPA.

On January 5, 2011, Judge Lodge ruled in our favor on all three of our claims under the National Environmental Policy Act:  that BLM failed to take a “hard look” at impacts to bull trout, an Endangered Species Act- protected species, failed to consider reasonable alternatives, and failed to study the cumulative impacts of grazing the areas.  The Court ordered BLM to develop a new Environmental Assessment (EA) and new grazing decisions within one year or grazing cannot continue.