WWP, Advocates for the West post another victory regarding land baron grazing

Judge Winmill largely rules in favor of plaintiffs on the Nickel Creek case-

From Western Watersheds Project v. Department of Interior:

“For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant WWP’s motion in part, finding that the decision of the Interior Board of Land Appeals is arbitrary and capricious, and remanding the matter to the BLM to (1) include the Management Guidelines as mandatory Terms and Conditions, and (2) render a new decision on the Nickel Creek FFR allotment.”

Doubtful many here have heard of the Nickel Creek allotments in the Owyhee Country of SW Idaho, but this is cause for New Year’s cheers. WWP might have a news release by the end of the day. Here is the decision.  Winmill Nickel Creek decision 12-30-09



  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    In this case, and in so many other grazing allotments, the continuing issue is that the BLM issues grazing “guidelines.” This sounds good the the public, but on the ground “guidelines” don’t mean s- – – (actually it means too much of it!). What matters is having guidelines replaced by “mandatory Terms and Conditions.”

  2. Maska Avatar

    WWP is one of those great, lean, and effective regional groups that deserve support. If anybody has a few bucks left at the end of the year, he/she might consider a little donation to these good folks. (And no, I’m not in any way affiliated with them.) ^..^

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Important battles are often fought in obscure places. You need people on the ground who will grub through the sagebrush, and groups that have some resources to expend on things like a few critical words that make all the difference.

  4. Eric T. Avatar
    Eric T.

    In order to replace guidelines with rules would require BLM to go through the rulemaking process.

    I am in no way saying that it shouldn’t be done. Just noting that there is nothing simple about changing wording when it involves moving from guidelines to a rule. Agencies at all layers of gov’t often issue guidelines in the absence of a rule. Rulemaking at the federal level is an especially long and arduous process.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Eric T,

    Eric you might be right in general, but on this one there is a good chance not, given the outcome of the case.

    Did you read it?

  6. Percy Avatar

    My eyes crossed reading that. I’ve got to hand it to WWP for dealing with the intricacies of cases such as this to make slow and steady progress against destructive grazing on public lands. Obscure is right! Good for WWP. I agree with you Maska and will give them a few bucks myself.

  7. kt Avatar

    Eric T:

    Nope. There is no need for rulemaking. BLM already has the rules made- and the permit Terms and Conditions under the BLM rules (the grazing regs) are supposed to include these measurable standards of use. The T&C are supposed to include what is required to protect -even minimally – the public lands.

    BLM has been trying to make ANY measurable use standard “optional”. Because the ranchers don’t want any accountability. They don’t want to have to leave a single blade of grass that can be measured.

    This is continuing under Ken Salazar – Zero accountability. Kind of like the Beef Processing Industry doesn’t want any accountability …


    ammonia – anyone?

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    More on what you suggested . . .

    It is not the case that there has to be rulemaking on this because all WWP and Judge Winmill are talking about is adding “mandatory terms and conditions” to BLM’s grazing authorizations. While BLM grazing decisions are a public process and can be appealed, they are carried out under the existing grazing rules and regulations created by Interior Secretary Babbitt in 1995. They are found under 43 CFR 4100.

    The mandatory terms and conditions phrase that Judge Winmill refers to is already in the BLM grazing rules at 43 CFR 4130.3.1c. The BLM has been ignoring it because ranchers don’t like it.

    So, no rulemaking is required for the BLM to make unenforceable “management guidelines” into “mandatory terms and conditions” of the grazing permit something they should have been doing for more than a decade.

  9. Mike Avatar

    Thank You Western Watersheds Project!

  10. vickif Avatar

    The sad and depressing reality is, even when we have adequate laws in place, this country sorely lacks in enforcement.
    We can have law upon law, until someone gets the huevos to act aggressively to enforce them….we really have sh*t.
    I am glad WWP has been so proactive in this matter. Now I can only hope something guenuinely good comes of it.


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Ralph Maughan