9th Circuit overturns Molloy's grazing decision on Antelope Basin

Good news for a pretty, but cattle hammered basin on the Idaho/Montana border-

Although those who only think about wolves suppose Federal Judge Molloy surely sides with conservation groups, he didn’t on this decision. Fortunately the 9th Circuit overturned his approval of a bad Forest Service grazing plan.

Here is the story in the Montana Standard, but the most informative one is in the Courthouse News Service. Court Orders Review of Montana Grazing Plan. By Elizabeth Banicki.

Antelope Basin in a wet year. July 1, 1995. Copyright Ralph Maughan



  1. kt Avatar

    This is great news!

    Thanks to Native Ecosystems Council, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Wild West for fighting this!

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Maybe the Basin will eventually look as nice as it did when I took that photo 15 years ago (the cows had not been put in and it was a wet year).

    This would be a fine place for free roaming bison.

  3. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears


    This is interesting, I am happy for the ruling, but you don’t often see Molloy overruled!

  4. Ken Cole Avatar

    Brian and I took a bunch of BFC folks there last year for an outing. I really love this place and it should be much more vibrant than it was.

    The cows and the herbicides had really done a lot of damage to this place but with some care and removal of fences I bet this would be a really great place for bison and other wildlife.

    What was most startling was the extreme utilization of the grasses by grazing. It’s no wonder that there are few if any sage grouse left. They had no nesting cover.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    My photo taken 15 years ago shows the sagebrush looking pretty good. It makes me think the damage must have been recent.

  6. Matt Avatar

    Nice photograph , deep colors and big sky, looks great.

  7. JimT Avatar

    Ralph, what do you use lens wise for wildlife shooting?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Since this photo was from 1995. I is a scan from a slide. The slide was probably taken with a Nikon N something.

      Now I mostly use a Nikon D5000. I bought it late last year to replace a Nikon D80. That replaced a Nikon Coolpix 8800.

      I also have a Nikon Coolpix P90 (note that’s not a D90). The P90 has a 24x zoom. That is great for telephotos as long as they don’t have to be of high print quality and you use Photoshop carefully to take out the color noise and fix the contrast.

  8. kt Avatar

    It sure looks to me like everyone is aware of the plight of sage-grouse these days. With this proxy by proxy analysis the Forest tried here, there doesn’t even have to be a single critter left alive to meet their requirements. They can manage to extinction. Kind of like Salazar’s Warranted But Precluded for sage-grouse.

    And regarding Salazar’s cowardly Warranted but Precluded Twelve Month Finding for sage grouse, the current Rockies Press echo chamber that is out there saying “he did the sensible thing” or something, is soon going to be exposed.

    The next Big Salazar (BLM) and FERC Decision to come down is going to be FERC and BLM authorizing the horribly destructive route of the Ruby pipeline in Nevada, as well as right through a Freudenthal/Audubon Wyoming sage-grouse Core Area.

    It will be really interesting to see what happens when the Ruby Pipeline gets challenged legally.

    I understand you have to go right to an Appeals Court. No lower Court Decision. Part of the Dick Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005.

    However, I think conservationists Win no matter the outcome of the legal challenge to Ruby. They Win if they get an injunction.

    They Win even if they lose by documenting the rapacious oil and gas industry destruction of a huge swath across the western U.S. Bulldozing and dynamiting sagebrush and critical grouse and pygmy rabbit habitats right and left.

    Ruby provides the perfect opportunity for exposing the facade of protection for grouse Salazar is now claiming.

    It’s going to get might interesting in grouse land in the next year, and this Montana Decision is a great start!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan