The groundwork has been laid. Many wild spaces in the West remain rugged, varied, and open—largely because they have been designated to stay that way by presidential and congressional decree. A vast network of public lands stretch across the West, protected in theory—but not always in practice.

Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and other agencies, the federal government oversees hundreds of millions of acres of land—and the air, water and wildlife they hold—in the West.

But too often, the very agencies designated to protect the West’s natural treasures allow grazing, mining, energy development and other destructive practices to pollute, damage, and destroy. We step in to hold these agencies accountable to law and science.

Advocates for the West is the legal voice that speaks up when the environment calls for it. We partner pro bono with conservation groups to help enforce the bedrock environmental statutes now in place to protect our public lands.

We win or favorably settle over 85% of our cases. When we do, it advances the endeavors of every conservation group in the West.

We wield law and science to stand our ground. Nowadays, it’s how the West is won.

Camas Creek Fisheries

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Forest Service, Jack Whitworth, and Whitworth Ranches

April 15, 2013 — We successfully settled the case. Under the terms of the settlement, the agencies withdrew their flawed ESA consultations and agreed to prepare new ones. And importantly, no grazing will occur until the new consultations are completed. September 28, 2012 — Advocates attorneys have filed the Opening Brief in our litigation to protect…

Snowmobile Use in California National Forests

Case: Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance, and Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Forest Service

Advocates for the West is representing Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Center for Biological Diversity  in a case regarding better management of snowmobile use on National Forest land in California. Snowmobiles create air pollution through emissions that far surpass those of regular passenger cars, run over trees and shrubs, damaging the vegetation, and scare wildlife….

Spring Valley Wind Energy Facility

Case: Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, and Ely Shoshone Tribe v. Bureau of Land Management

This case challenged a poorly-sited wind facility consisting of 75 wind turbines (each over 400 feet tall) as well as over 25 miles of new roads on BLM public land in Spring Valley, Nevada (east of Ely). The facility near Great Basin National Park would be only 4 miles from a regionally-significant bat roost known…

Ruby Pipeline

Case: Western Watersheds Project, Oregon Natural Desert Association and Ruby Pipeline Agree to Establish Conservation Funds

The Ruby pipeline is a project of El Paso Pipeline Corp., the country’s largest pipeline company, which will cover 650 miles from southwestern Wyoming to southern Oregon. The Ruby pipeline will carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, providing a coal substitute for utilities on the West Coast. But the Ruby pipeline…

Idaho state land grazing

Case: Lazy Y Ranch Ltd v. Tracy Berhrens, Marilyn Howard, Keith Johnson, Jim Risch, Lawrence Wasden, Winston Wiggins, Ben Ysursa, Does 1-20, and Geairge Bacon

Executive Director Laird Lucas has brought a series of lawsuits against the Idaho State Land Board over the last decade, based on their refusal to award school land leases to conservationists seeking to pay more money to protect and restore the lands. The Idaho Supreme Court has issued several decisions, all holding that it violates…

Lemhi endangered fish

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. William Wood, U.S. Forest Service, Steve Hartmann, Bureau of Land Management, Jeffery Foss, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and David Mabe, and NOAA Fisheries

This action challenges Forest Service and BLM violations of the Endangered Species Act in failing to carry out consulations with US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries over impacts of livestock grazing, irrigation diversions, and other management actions upon salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the Lemhi River watershed of central Idaho. The Lemhi River…

Mt. Wilson pinyon-juniper logging

Case: American Lands Alliance, Western Watersheds Project, et al v. Kolkman

This case challenged BLM’s proposal to clearcut and mulch some 50 square miles of old growth pinyon-juniper forest around the Mt. Wilson area of central Nevada. BLM claimed that the logging was needed to reduce wildfire risks in the “urban/wildland interface,” even though there is no urban area in this remote part of Nevada — and…

Pleasantview allotment

Case: Idaho Conservation League and Western Watersheds Projects v. Steele

The Pleasantview allotment covers 70,000 acres of mostly public lands near Malad City, in southeast Idaho.  It offers habitat for greater sage-grouse, Columbia sharp-tail grouse, and other imperiled species; yet BLM has allowed excessive livestock grazing to badly damage the uplands and stream bottoms.  Weeds and alien species are spreading, aided by livestock overgrazing of native…

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…

Idaho Clean Water Act Permitting

Case: Idaho Conservation League v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Andrew Wheeler

September 10, 2020 – After a six-month wait since oral argument, the 9th Circuit ruled on Advocates for the West’s challenge to the EPA’s approval of the Idaho NPDES Program. The opinion rules that we were victorious on the mens rea issue with the court holding that states must have a criminal negligence standard that…