Oregon Bull Trout Habitat Protection

Oregon Bull Trout Habitat Protection

Current Status:

Case Title:
Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Western Watersheds Project v. US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Staff attorney(s):
Lizzy Potter
Laurie Rule


Friends of Living Oregon Waters

Oregon Wild

Western Watersheds Project

To Protect:

Bull trout habitat



On 12-22-15, on behalf of our clients OregonWild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, and Western Watersheds Project, Advocates for the West submitted Summary Judgment.

Case Information:

On May 26th, 2015, Advocates for the West’s Senior Attorney Laurie Rule partnered with David H. Becker to file a complaint on behalf of clients Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and Western Watersheds Project in the U.S. District Court in Medford, Oregon over illegal grazing in the Fremont and Winema National Forest.

The court challenge indicts the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving livestock grazing that degrades important habitat for bull trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and damages the quality of a popular recreation area. The controversial grazing harms the upper Sycan River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, and the Hanan Trail, a popular route for hikers and horseback riders. Grazing these areas also violates water quality standards in the Sprague River watershed, contrary to the region’s Forest Plan conservation objectives.

By allowing livestock grazing to continue along these streams, the channels are becoming wider and shallower, with reduced overhanging vegetation and trampled banks. These impacts lead to higher water temperatures that violate state water quality standards and harm bull trout. The 2011 assessment that approved continued grazing failed to account for the full extent of these impacts and relied on a monitoring scheme that the Forest Service was unlikely to implement and which is not even sufficient to protect threatened bull trout.