BLM won't fight grazing ban on Idaho allotment

Domestic sheep will not return to allotment in bighorn sheep habitat.

The Partridge Creek allotment in the Salmon River Canyon near Riggins is closed to domestic sheep grazing after Western Watersheds Project, The Wilderness Society, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council filed suit in Federal Court.

This is a huge victory for bighorn sheep which have declined in number to 3500 statewide, half of 1990’s population.

BLM won’t fight grazing ban on Idaho allotment
Associated Press

Earlier: Federal judge shutters Idaho grazing allotment


  1. Maska Avatar

    Congratulations to WWP et al for going to the mat for the bighorns–and winning!

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Let’s hope the BLM now closes the grazing allotment. Even if there were no bighorn, the Salmon River canyon here is too rugged for a grazing allotment.

  3. Maska Avatar

    I have no illusions about federal land managers, but the bighorn sheep is such an iconic creature that the black eye they get from allowing grazing to jeopardize its very existence may be sufficient (along with litigation, of course) to stiffen their spines a little. It’s too bad it takes such an emotionally charged situation to get their attention.

  4. Bob Ostler Avatar
    Bob Ostler

    Sort of off topic:
    We really do need a program to buy and retire grazing allotments from willing sellers here in the west. Having the allotments phased out, especially in marginal areas, would save so much money and time spent in litigation over the long run. A voluntary program would allow for the maintenance of those healthy cattle and sheep operations that wanted to continue ranching and would also provide a source of “rental” livestock should the BLM determine that an allotment needed to be grazed. I am one who believes that range in good condition is kept that way with reasonable and managed grazing (heavy in some years and none at all in others). Obama has been a considerable disappointment in the west, but that was not unexpected. All he really and emotionally knows about is downtown Chicago. Election #2 is on the horizon and his feet can be held to the fire for much more sensible actions on conservation issues. Retiring grazing allotments would be one such issue.

  5. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how this case will affect other sheep allotments near bighorn ranges? The one I’m thinking of in particular is a recent allocation at the head of the Pahsimeroi on the Lemhi Mountains side. I don’t know the name of the rancher or the allotment, but I believe it is scheduled for 125 sheep. The sheep in the Lemhis were reintroduced, although there were strong historic populations there until the 1890’s, from what I gather through various historical narratives.


    Grazing buyouts get discussed here a lot. Brian E. or Ralph can probably give you a pretty good summary of all the issues surrounding buyouts, or the permits in general. One thing I am learning is that grazing regimes and the effects on landscape are highly variable, depending on soil and precip – damage from heavy grazing in arid lands (such as occurred from 1880-1940, and is still happening in places) is really tough to try and fix – even seventy years later, at least according to the several range folks I have talked to about this problem.

  6. DB Avatar

    This develpment might cause the Nez Perce NF to prefer discontinuing the Allison-Berg sheep allotment as that nepa analysis proceeds. And what effect might it have as the Payette NF works on it’s forest plan ammendment to ensure bighorn sheep viability? One can hope.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The BLM in the country you are talking about is really unfriendly to non-grazing uses of the land.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole