Ninth Circuit orders Bureau of Land Management to evaluate wilderness values on public lands

Brent Fenty 541-330-2638
Jon Marvel 208-788-2290

Ninth Circuit orders Bureau of Land Management to evaluate wilderness values on public lands

PORTLAND, ORE. — The Bureau of Land Management must rewrite its land use plan for southeast Oregon due to a landmark decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. The BLM wrongly refused to evaluate impacts to wilderness values on the public lands in the challenged plan, according to the decision, which overturned a district court decision upholding the plan.

The ruling will have a profound impact on BLM’s management of the public lands it is charged with protecting. The court specifically rejected BLM’s disavowal of “the very idea of wilderness” as one of many resources and values for which the agency must manage. Finding that the law, including BLM’s own guidance documents, unmistakably requires BLM to analyze impacts to a landscape’s wilderness characteristics, the court vacated the plan and ordered BLM prepare a new plan.

Read the whole Press Release

UPDATE: Read a Copy of the Decision


  1. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Bush and Kempthorne are searching for the antacid tablets as we speak

  2. JB Avatar

    I haven’t read the case yet, but this could be huge. FYI, the Ninth Circuit also established the precedent regarding the “significant portion of its range” concept within the ESA that has been such a thorn in the Bush Administration’s side. Note, the ESA also contains a statement about the values of endangered wildlife that FWS recently noted that it may consider (but need not) consider when listing species.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar

    JB and others – I have added a link (update) to the decision for your reading pleasure. It’s a good decision that many people worked very hard on for a very long time – it will mean good things for our public lands.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    As JB notes, this could be a huge victory for wildlife and your public lands in darkest last days of the Bush Administration.

    Thanks go to the plaintiffs, the Oregon Natural Desert Association, the Committee for the High Desert, and the Western Watersheds Project.

  5. kt Avatar

    Well, all of the Land Use Plans of the last 5-8 years are so deeply flawed in so many ways – they need to be redone. Typically millions of dollars were spent on them in agency time, and more and more contractors because the Bush BLM cut or drove out any competent people). They typically do nothing except rubberstamp status quo fantastical numbers of livestock, and Open nearly everything to Oil Gas and giant Wind Farms.

    This Vale Oregon RMP process was flawed, though, from its inception in the Clinton Admin – Vale being in the heart of the welfare public lands grazing country where some of the worst Owyhee cattlemen run on both sides of the Idaho-Oregon border. These are the cowboys that millions of acres of sagebrush was destroyed for in the “Vale Project”.

    Vale BLM initially did an EIS that was bad that even they recognized they had to do a Supplemental EIS. The SEIS was so garbled it was almost incomprehensible – and ignored current science and concerns. Joy Belsky, the great ecologist who worked for ONDA and wrote several synthesis/review papers on the devastating effects of livestock grazing in the arid West, was instrumental in laying the groundwork (endless comments endlessly submitted) for this victory a decade after the sad and sorry RMP process began. Kudos to Mac Lacy, too, the excellent ONDA Attorney who won this!

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Brian Ertz