2001 was a watershed year for Western Watersheds Project. It was a year, in fact, that saw Idaho Watersheds Project become WWP. Our work now extends to eight states in the West.
While WWP’s territory expands, our mission remains the same: to protect and restore western watersheds through education, litigation and public policy initiatives that seek to end incompatible uses of public lands.
In 1993 WWP pioneered the strategy of competitive bidding for grazing leases on Idaho’s public-school endowment lands. Nine years later, with increasing support from foundations and individual donors, our goal is to end public-lands ranching by 2011.
Here are highlights of our efforts in 2001:
January-February: Idaho Watersheds Project becomes Western Watersheds Project, embarks on a 10-year plan to end public-lands ranching and expands its work to seven other western states: Montana, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada.
March: WWP executive director Jon Marvel and WWP counsel Laird Lucas are cited among the 100 most influential figures in Idaho.
April: WWP files a series of lawsuits at the federal level, using the Endangered Species Act to challenge water diversions that impact salmon, steelhead and bull trout habitat.
May: WWP files an emergency petition to list slickspot peppergrass, a rare Idaho plant species. Listing would protect millions of acres of habitat.
June: WWP embarks on a national media campaign aimed at public-lands ranching. In Idaho, WWP’s legal team delivers more than 65 notices of intention to sue under ESA over water diversions in endangered fish habitat in the Salmon River watershed.
July: Willow Creek Ecology, founded by John Carter in Mendon, Utah, merges with WWP, becoming our base of operations in the state. Carter files appeals on 176 grazing permits covering more than 1.5 million acres of BLM land, the first legal challenge to northern Utah’s ranching industry.
August: In another federal action, WWP and the Idaho Conservation League sue the Sawtooth National Forest for its failure to protect wolves.
September: Under pressure from WWP and other conservation groups, rancher Brad Mead, grandson of former U.S. Sen. Clifford Hansen, halts his grazing operations in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Riparian and upland restoration begins at WWP's 440-acre Greenfire Preserve on the East Fork of the Salmon River.
October: WWP receives a major grant from The Bullitt Foundation of Seattle in support of a project to improve management in the Caribou National Forest of southeastern Idaho.
November: The National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, a national initiative to end livestock grazing on public lands through financial incentives to ranchers, is unveiled. WWP is one of six conservation groups in the West to head the campaign.
December: Eight conservation groups, including WWP, file a formal protest with the Bureau of Land Management to challenge a mammoth land management plan in Oregon. WWP also sues the BLM to stop a proposal to seed 55 square miles of public lands in Oregon with non-native plant species. Finally, WWP sues the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to act on a petition to list a distinct population of mountain quail in five states in the West.