Threatened and endangered species in the West cover the gamut. They are bighorn sheep and wolves. They are sage-grouse and salmon. They are pygmy rabbits and spotted frogs.

Our wildlife cases wield the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and others to halt habitat destruction – unchecked grazing, industrial development, mining exploration, obsolete dams – wildlife in the West face these and many other threats daily.

As climate change and human activities cause the loss and fragmentation of habitats, our work becomes increasingly vital. We strive to protect and boost diminishing wildlife populations – from the mighty bighorn to the fragile frog.

Elko: multiple use decisions

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. Oke

BLM’s Elko field office approved three “multiple use decisions” (MUDs) authorizing grazing and fencing on 3 allotments in northern Nevada covering 1.5 million acres.  Despite the fact that this area is key sage grouse habitat and home to other imperiled species, BLM collected virtually no data on current conditions of these sensitive species populations or their habitats. …

Lemhi flood flows

Case: Snake River Basin Adjudication subcase 74-15051 et seq

We represent conservationist water right holders in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, who are objecting to 294 water right claims for “flood flows” (or “high flows”) by irrigators in the Lemhi River watershed. The Lemhi River and its tributaries are critical habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout; and the Lemhi River is historically dried…

Bully Creek grazing

Case: Western Watersheds Project and Oregon Natural Desert Association v. Massington

Over several years we have brought various administrative appeals and court cases seeking to force BLM to protect sage-grouse, redband trout and other sensitive resources from livestock grazing damage in the Bully Creek area of eastern Oregon. BLM adopted and promised to follow an improved grazing regime after our initial 2001 lawsuit; but monitoring showed that objectives…

North Fork Malheur Grazing

Case: Oregon Natural Desert Association and Western Watersheds Project v. Pat Ryan, Dave Henderson, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior

This case challenges BLM’s recent decision to continue allowing excessive livestock grazing on 237,000 acres of public lands in the North Fork Malheur watershed of eastern Oregon. BLM admits that grazing has harmed sage grouse, fish, and native plants; but rather than address the cause of the problem, BLM proposes to construct dozens of miles of new…

Rio Grande silvery minnow

Case: Rio Grande Silvery Minnows v. Keys

We represent a coalition of national and state groups — including Wild Earth Guardians, National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and New Mexico Audubon — in this long-standing litigation over the impacts of the federal Middle Rio Grande water project on the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. Once abundant throughout the Rio Grande, the silvery minnow is now…

Sonoran National Monument grazing

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. Bureau of Land Management

President Clinton designated the 500,000-acre Sonoran Desert National Monument in 2001 to protect its outstanding wildlife, plant and other natural resources.  The Monument proclamation ordered BLM to halt livestock grazing on part of the Monument, and to study whether grazing would be compatible with the Monument purposes on the remainder.   Yet eight years later, BLM still has not made that compatability…

Pygmy rabbit listing

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ESA listing case, challenging US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “90-day finding” rejecting WWP’s listing petition for pygmy rabbit — the word’s tiniest bunny. Pygmy rabbits dig burrows under sagebrush; climb up in sagebrush to scout and feed; and otherwise depend on sagebrush throughout their lives.  Loss and degradation of sagebrush habitats across the range of pygmy rabbits (including Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and…

Otter Creek Diversion Challenge

Case: IWP v. Jones

Endangered Species Act citizen suit against Verl and Tuddie Jones for unlawful “take” of threatened bull trout through operation of their unscreened diversion on Otter Creek, located on Salmon Challis National Forest public lands. We won an injunction prohibiting further diversions until the irrigator obtained a special use permit from US Forest Service, and it conducted ESA consultation…

Herd Creek diversion

Case: IWP v. Bennetts

Endangered Species Act citizen suit against Jim Bennetts for unlawful “take” of threatened salmon, steelhead, and bull trout associated with his unscreened public lands diversions on Herd Creek and Lake Creek (East Fork Salmon River watershed), and because of livestock damage to critical habitat on his base property. After we filed for summary judgment supported by several…

Mahogany Creek diversion

Case: IWP v. Whitworth

Endangered Species Act citizen suit against Judd Whitworth and Sulphur Creek Livestock for unlawful “take” of threatened bull trout through operation of unscreened public lands diversion on Mahogany Creek, tributary to upper Pahsimeroi River. Our experts showed that the Mahogany Creek diversion would likely “take” bull trout through entrainment into the unscreened ditch, which continued…