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The Bureau of Land Management Walks Back Alvord Desert Grazing Plan

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2022

Contact: Adam Bronstein, Western Watersheds Project, 541-595-8034,


BURNS, Ore. — The Bureau of Land Management today vacated and remanded a decision that would have authorized a ten year grazing management plan in the Alvord Desert, a popular destination for recreationists and an area sacred to the Burns-Paiute Tribe at the base of Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Western Watersheds Project had appealed the decision to the Office of Hearings and Appeals, an administrative law court within the Department of the Interior.

The Allotment Management Plan, if implemented, would have increased cattle stocking rates, authorized the drilling of seven new wells, increased grazing pressure in Wilderness Study Areas and allowed cattle continued access to streams that contain Lahontan cutthroat trout, a federally threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“The public lands of the Alvord Desert and Steens Mountain are beloved by Americans everywhere who come to visit this incredible landscape for its natural beauty and rare wildlife,” said Adam Bronstein, Oregon/Nevada Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The desert ecosystem is so fragile here. I cannot think of a worse place to pile on more impacts from domestic livestock, so it’s great news that this decision has been vacated.”

The Bureau cited errors in their stocking rate calculations, and their concerns that the proposed management for the Lahontan cutthroat trout Biological Opinion would be inadequate, as reasons for reversing course. The Bureau has the option to reissue a new plan following NEPA guidelines.

“For any future revision of this decision, the Bureau must keep in mind the interests of the public and the sensitive species that call the Alvord Desert home,” said Bronstein. “People love the wild character of the Alvord Desert and the Bureau’s decisions should reflect that sentiment.” 



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