Idaho Conservation League and Western Watersheds Project file motion demanding removal of livestock from some parts of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

6-27-2002, plus update 7-3-2002

I would venture that the Sawtooth National Forest's underwhelming response to its recent lawsuit loss, wherein the court said wildlife is more important than livestock on this special, congressionally designated part of Idaho, has generated the motion for relief described below in the news release.

Federal Court Motion Filed by WWP and ICL To Remove Livestock From Portions of SNRA In Follow Up To Federal Court Victory
On Tuesday June 25, 2002 Western Watersheds Project and the Idaho Conservation League filed a Motion for Interim Relief with Federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill in federal district court in Boise, Idaho requesting that the Court order the immediate closure of eight grazing allotments in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho. A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for July 11, 2002.
The Motion follows Judge Winmill's Order of June 11, 2002 in which he granted Summary Judgment to ICL and WWP in the groups' lawsuit against the Sawtooth National Forest. Judge Winmill ruled two weeks ago that the Forest Service is in violation of the Organic Act which created the SNRA in 1972 as well as the Rescissions Act of 1995.
The Organic Act requires that management preference be given to wildlife, recreation, and fisheries over other uses such as livestock grazing in the SNRA. The Rescissions Act requires the Forest Service to establish and adhere to a schedule for National Environmental Policy Act review of livestock grazing permits on all National Forests.
The removal of livestock from the eight allotments (out of 28 allotments in the SNRA) would reduce the potential for conflicts between livestock and wolves dramatically. The eight allotments are primarily located on the east side of the Sawtooth Valley where wolves have killed sheep and a few calves in the past several years. Past depredations by wolves in the SNRA and nearby lands has resulted in the federal government killing or eliminating three wolf packs in the last three years in the SNRA. WWP estimates that the area included in the requested removal of livestock includes more than 100,000 acres of public lands. Wolves have been observed in the area within the last seven days.

Update 6-28. Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Woolgrowers, said the legal motion "shows that environmental groups simply want to remove livestock from public lands."

Instead of this generic anti-environmental rhetoric ascribing bad motivations to not just the plaintiffs, but all environmental groups, perhaps Boyd should note that the Sawtooth NRA is not just any public lands. They are special. Congress recognized that and put sheep in second place. He should also note that some members of his organization have done a good job in the SNRA, and others are unpleasant, recalcitrant, backward thinking.

Update 7-3. Here is a story about the motion from the Idaho Mountain Express. Groups sue to stop Sawtooth grazing. Court asked to close 8 allotments to protect wolves. By Greg Stahl.


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