Oregon Lost River and Shortnose Sucker Habitat Protection

Oregon Lost River and Shortnose Sucker Habitat Protection

Current Status:
PENDING

Case Title:
Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, and Western Watersheds Project v. Constance Cummins, U.S. Forest Service, Laurie R. Sada, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Staff attorney(s):
Laurie Rule
Lizzy Potter

Client(s):

Friends of Living Oregon Waters

Oregon Wild

Western Watersheds Project

To Protect:

Lost River and Shortnose Sucker Habitat

States:
Oregon

Case Information:

July 22, 2015, Advocates for the West’s Senior Attorney Laurie Rule and Staff Attorney Lizzy Zultoski 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 U.S. District Court in Medford, Oregon over grazing in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

The challenged grazing occurs in the Lost River watershed in the Klamath Basin, which has been facing years of a severe drought and includes some of the few remaining populations of endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers. The federally authorized grazing has caused long-term and continuing damage to important habitat for suckers in this watershed. Indeed, the Forest Service’s own monitoring indicates that grazing has not complied with authorizations, contributed to poor riparian conditions, and increased water temperatures.  Water diversions, climate change, and the severe drought in the Klamath Basin compound the harm caused by grazing to suckers and their habitat.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act by approving livestock grazing that harms Lost River and shortnose suckers, listed as endangered under the ESA, and their critical habitat on the National Forest.  The lawsuit also alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the ESA through its initial consultation over grazing’s impacts to endangered suckers and its failure to re-initiate consultation due to new information and circumstances related to the effects of grazing.