Western Watersheds Project, with the help of many of our allies in the conservation community, has been bringing much needed change to public lands and wildlife management throughout the west.
Recently, WWP's efforts have resulted in a favorable settlement on a Nevada allotment that served as center-stage of the controversial Calico free-roaming horse roundup, an extended closure of cattle grazing on key fish and wildlife habitat on the Payette National Forest in Idaho, and protections for hundreds of miles of fish habitat on the Malheur National Forest in Oregon.
Also, WWP continues our push to insist that the federal government address the massive budget shortfall with its destructive public land grazing program in the west.
The Rapid River area near Riggins, Idaho provides some of the most important spawning waters in Idaho for chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, all fish listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. This area also has critical winter habitat for mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep, and is also home to the rare mountain quail. With its scenic backdrop of the Seven Devils Mountains and plentiful wildlife, the Rapid River also provides outstanding recreation and hunting.
A large cattle allotment of over 21,000 acres is located in the Payette and Nez Perce National Forests, the Fall Creek/Whitebird Allotment. The Rapid River forms this allotment's western boundary. The Forest Service has documented ongoing degradation from livestock grazing, including to the springs and headwaters in this allotment, as well as problems with invasive weeds and unmaintained improvements. Despite these documented problems, in 2009, the Payette National Forest New Meadows District Ranger approved continued livestock grazing, which WWP successfully appealed to Payette Forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville.
The Payette National Forest has agreed with the permittee to a voluntary closure to cattle grazing on the Fall Creek/Whitebird Allotment for resource protection for at least 7 years. WWP is pleased that the Payette and the permittee reached this voluntary agreement, which will remove livestock from these outstanding public lands, and promote improved habitat for fish and wildlife.
Today, Western Watersheds Project and partners Center for Biological Diversity, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Wildearth Guardians sued the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to compel them to respond to a 2005 rulemaking petition that seeks to increase the fee for livestock grazing across 258 million acres of federal public land.
Western Watersheds Project, along with our partners at the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and the Center for Biological Diversity, have won litigation against the Malheur National Forest in Oregon in regard to livestock grazing on hundreds of miles of streams designated as critical habitat for Endangered Species Act listed ocean-run steelhead trout.
WWP was well represented in this litigation by Dave Becker and Mac Lacy of ONDA with help from Kristin Ruether of Advocates for the West.
The Soldier Meadows Allotment contains Bureau of Land Management public lands enjoyed by wildflower, wildlife, wilderness and free-roaming horse enthusiasts.
Livestock use of this public land allotment is largely responsible for the controversial 'Calico Roundup' of free-roaming horses.
WWP is pleased to bring this victory to recreationists and non-consumptive users of all stripes, whose interests in these magnificent public lands are commonly diminished by public land ranching.
WWP was ably represented by Advocates for The West's attorney, Todd Tucci.