Thursday, November 30, 2023

Livestock Groups Call Attention to Judicial Activism in Sage Grouse Case


WASHINGTON (Oct. 16, 2019) – Today, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court in Idaho, granted a preliminary injunction requested by several wildlife conservation groups to prevent amendments to the Obama-era sage grouse management plan from being implemented.

The amendments were established with input from local stakeholders including ranchers, state wildlife experts, conservation groups, oil and gas, mining companies and hunters.  The goal was to better align BLM plans for managing habitat with state plans for conserving the species.

In April, conservation groups like Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department to prevent the state-supported amendments from taking affect.

Following the ruling, Public Lands Council President Bob Skinner and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston released the following statements in response to the enjoinment of the 2019 BLM Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments:

“This is yet another example of advocacy from the bench.  The claims lodged by the plaintiffs are not based in science. Time and time again, research has demonstrated that grazing is not only compatible with healthy sage grouse populations, it is a critical tool in the prevention of wildfire, which is the primary threat to sage grouse habitat.” – PLC President Bob Skinner

“These professional environmental litigants care less about genuine conservation of the sage grouse and more about pushing livestock off of federal lands.  This narrow-minded worldview is precisely what prompted the BLM to undertake these revisions in the first place. In the end, science must determine the outcome of this suit.” – NCBA President Jennifer Houston


In December of 2018, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published Final Environmental Impact Statements (FEISs) on revisions to the 2015 Obama-era sage grouse Resource Management Plan Amendments (RMPAs).  The Records of Decision (RODs) were subsequently published in March of 2019.  These changes were hailed by the livestock industry as a more workable solution than the 2015 plans.  In April, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, and Prairie Hills Audubon Society filed suit against the BLM and moved for preliminary injunction.  Today, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho granted the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, barring the rules from taking effect in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada/Northeastern California, and Oregon.




Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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