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Sage Grouse Shuts Down Wind Development; WWP Legal Challenge Brings Needed Scrutiny to Illegal Water Diversions in Lemhi County

Sage Grouse Shuts Down China Mountain Wind Development On Brown’s Bench In Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada

A Western Watersheds Project Legal Challenge Brings Needed Scrutiny To Illegal Water Diversions in Lemhi County, Idaho

Online Messenger #223

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On March 7, 2012 Western Watersheds Project learned that the Bureau of Land Management has halted work for at least two years on the Environmental Impact Statement for the China Mountain Wind Project. This delay may well be the death knell for this landscape destroying project.

For several years federal land managers have been considering degrading a remarkable southern Idaho and northern Nevada landscape, Brown’s Bench, with 170 four hundred foot tall industrial wind towers to provide energy for Las Vegas, Nevada hundreds of miles to the south.

Western Watersheds Project has vigorously opposed the China Mountain Wind Project, pointing out that it will negatively impact public lands with some of the most critically needed sage grouse habitat in Idaho and Nevada.

Western Watersheds Project’s pressure to list sage grouse under the protections of the Endangered Species Act, WWP’s comprehensive efforts challenging public land planning processes across sage-grouse habitat and WWP’s site-specific challenges of many hundreds of BLM and Forest Service decisions that threaten sage grouse are a major contributor to the delay of this industrial wind energy project.

Western Watersheds Project believes this two year delay of the industrial China Mountain Wind Project is a sign of a beneficial shift in public land management policies away from exploitation and toward the protection and restoration of public lands and wildlife.
Western Watersheds Project Litigation Results in New Protections For Listed Steelhead and Chinook Salmon In The Lemhi River Watershed in Central Idaho

On February 27, 2012 in response to a settlement of Western Watersheds Project litigation the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a Biological Opinion (BO) that finds that irrigation diversions on 12 Lemhi River tributaries on Forest Service administered land jeopardize the survival of steelhead and Chinook salmon.

The BO also directs that Reasonable and Prudent Measures be adopted that will ensure a minimum stream flow in the tributaries during the irrigation season as well as new headgate structures with fish screens.

Download the Biological Opinion & attachments

This unprecedented Biological Opinion requires the Forest Service to administer irrigation diversions on public lands to benefit the recovery of ESA listed steelhead and Chinook salmon.

WWP thanks our attorneys at Advocates for the West, Laurie Rule, Kristin Ruether, and Laird Lucas for their terrific representation of WWP in this Lemhi River Watershed litigation.

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