HOW the WEST is WON

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.

Pleasantview allotment
Status: SETTLED

Pleasantview allotment

Case: ICL & WWP v. Steele, No. 01-cv-529 (D. Idaho)

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…

Mahogany Creek diversion
Status: SETTLED

Mahogany Creek diversion

Case: IWP v. Whitworth, oo-cv-728 (D. Idaho)

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…

Protecting Idaho’s Bighorn Sheep
Status: WON

Protecting Idaho’s Bighorn Sheep

Case: IWGA et al V. Tom Vilsack et al & TWS et al

On March 17th, 2014, Advocates for the West’s Senior Attorney Laurie Rule appeared in court as an intervenor on behalf of the US Forest Service. We backed the agency’s decision to restrict domestic sheep grazing on much of the Payette National Forest due to the likelihood of domestic and bighorn interaction. Such interactions lead to bighorn contracting a fatal disease from…

Sonoran National Monument grazing
Status: FAVORABLY-DISMISSED

Sonoran National Monument grazing

Case: WWP v. BLM, No. 08-cv-1472-MHM (D. Az.)

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…

Herd Creek diversion
Status: SETTLED

Herd Creek diversion

Case: IWP v. Bennetts, 00-cv-729 (D. Idaho)

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…

BLM Secret Permit Transfer
Status: WON

BLM Secret Permit Transfer

Case: Western Watersheds Project v. Pike, Case No. 12-0205

Advocates for the West filed a federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management challenging BLM secret grazing permit transfer to one of the largest livestock corporations in the U.S., J.R. Simplot Livestock Co (“Simplot”). In the midst of separate litigation over the BLM’s grazing permits on the Battle Creek allotment, BLM secretly transferred two of these…

East Boulder Creek Gold Mining
Status: FAVORABLY-DISMISSED

East Boulder Creek Gold Mining

Case: Idaho Conservation League v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. 4:15-cv-284 (D. Idaho)

Advocates for the West is challenging the Forest Service’s decision to approve gold mining in the Napoleon Ridge Roadless Area on East Boulder Creek without studying the environmental impacts. East Boulder Creek is a tributary to the main Salmon River and is located approximately 11 miles west of North Fork, Idaho. On July 10, the…

Idaho Predator Hunt Derby
Status: FAVORABLY-DISMISSED

Idaho Predator Hunt Derby

Case: Idaho Predator Derby

On November 13, 2014, Advocates for the West filed a complaint against the Bureau of Land Management challenging the authorization of the “Idaho Predator Hunt Derby” on public lands surrounding the town of Salmon, Idaho.  This case is ongoing, however, the BLM rescinded the permit on over 3 million acres of land after initially granting a 5-year…

Camas Creek Fisheries
Status: SETTLED

Camas Creek Fisheries

Case: 4:12-cv-00197-BLW

Advocates for the West, representing Western Watersheds Project, filed this suit to protect the wild salmonids of Camas Creek. Those who have rafted the Middle Fork Salmon River know that Camas Creek is a beautiful tributary of that river, flows in large part within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, and is home to…

Arsenic water quality standards
Status: SETTLED

Arsenic water quality standards

Case: ICL v. EPA, July 2008 notice letter