For Immediate Release, June 4, 2019

Contact:

Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project, (520) 623-1878; greta@westernwatersheds.org
Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org
Judi Brawer, WildEarth Guardians, (208) 871-0596, jbrawer@wildearthguardians.org

Court Blocks Contested Oregon Grazing Permits

PORTLAND, Ore.― A federal judge in Oregon today granted conservation groups’ motion to block livestock from using public lands allotments near Burns during the month of June. The temporary restraining order was issued in response to a lawsuit challenging former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order to reinstate the grazing permits, overriding the 2014 recommendations of the Bureau of Land Management to cancel the permits. The allotments at issue contain important habitat for greater sage grouse and redband trout, and grazing on one of the allotments, Mud Creek, was scheduled to occur later this week.

“We’re happy to have stopped the harmful impacts of grazing to nesting and newly hatched sage-grouse in the month of June, when chicks need the forbs for nutrition and tall grasses for hiding cover from predators,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “Livestock grazing removes these key components of chick survival.”

In a lawsuit filed last month, conservation groups said Zinke misinterpreted the effects of a 2018 presidential pardon of Dwight and Steven Hammond, convicted arsonists who were denied grazing permit renewals in 2014 because of their “unsatisfactory record of performance.” Zinke’s order resulted in the challenged grazing authorization that was issued without environmental review or public process. It also failed to incorporate the new requirements of Oregon’s sage-grouse management plan amendments.

“This decision is welcome news that gives the iconic sage grouse a temporary reprieve,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re looking forward to justice being served. The Trump administration shouldn’t be allowed to engage in this blatant political interference. It violates our democracy and due process and ignores the need to protect public lands."

“This land hasn’t been grazed for five years, providing sage grouse and their habitat a much-needed reprieve from the harmful impacts of cows,” said Judi Brawer, Wild Places program director at WildEarth Guardians. “Starting grazing now will have serious ecological consequences that must be considered. Every other grazing permit is supposed to go through the environmental review process. Trump and his henchmen should not be allowed to constantly claim exceptions to that rule.”

Western Watersheds Project is an environmental conservation group working to protect and restore watersheds and wildlife throughout the American West.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

WildEarth Guardians works to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

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