Final victory over Bush anti-public, anti-environment grazing regulations

It took a long time, but Western Watersheds and Advocates for the West seem to have a final victory

As a note, I am pleased to have been a plaintiff for the National Wildlife Federation in fighting this Bush era effort to exclude the public from having influence in grazing decisions, improperly grant property rights to livestock grazers, including water rights. Ralph Maughan
Below is the celebratory news release from WWP

Western Watersheds Project - Working to Protect and Restore Western Watersheds and Wildlife
Online Messenger #184

Western Watersheds Project Victorious in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals & Wins Another Federal Court Settlement Against the Forest Service on 386 Allotments in Seven Western States.
~ Jon Marvel
Jon Marvel


Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Western Watersheds Project victory in Idaho District Court overturning the Bush Administration’s attempt to fundamentally change federal grazing regulations impacting hundreds of millions of acres of public lands in the West.  WWP was joined in this litigation by co-plaintiffs National Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Idaho Conservation League, and famed Idaho conservationist and WWP Board member Dr. Ralph Maughan of Pocatello.

The Bush Era Grazing Regulations would have :

  • Removed public involvement from grazing decisions affecting public lands and wildlife.
  • Granted ranchers private property-interest in public livestock grazing installations and developments including fences, water developments, and buildings on public lands.
  • Granted ranchers water-rights on public lands currently held in trust by the American public.

This significant victory at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a welcome smack-down of Bush anti-environmentalism.  The win emboldens public participation and accountability, stymies the most recent livestock industry land and water grab, and maintains public ownership of the West’s vast water resources to benefit wildlife and future generations.

Thanks to our attorneys Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West, Joe Feller of Arizona State University Law School and Johanna Wald of the Natural Resources Defense Council for their excellent legal representation.

WWP would also like to acknowledge the decades-long legal work on the issue of public lands ranching by the late Tom Lustig of the National Wildlife Federation.  Before his untimely death in May 2008 Tom provided invaluable legal counsel on this critical litigation.

tom lustig
Tom Lustig

Read the Decisionpdf

Western Western Watersheds Project Secures a Federal District Court Ordered Settlement with the Forest Service Halting the Agency’s End-Run Around the National Environmental Policy Act in Authorizing Livestock Grazing on 386 Grazing Allotments Across the West.

WWP was joined in this litigation by Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, California Trout, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Los Padres Forest Watch, Sierra Forest Legacy, Sequoia Forestkeeper, Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Environmental Congress, Red Rock Forests, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.

This significant victory affects livestock grazing administration on National Forests in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico and California and will ensure compliance with the nation’s most important environmental statute, NEPA.

Read the Court Orderpdf

Thanks to Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West’s Boise office for her stellar legal representation in this case.

Jon Marvel
Executive Director

Banner: Sawtooth National Forest, central Idaho © Lynne Stone

Clean Water

Public Land Ranchers’ latest attempt to steal water from the public was averted © Christopher McBride

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  1. Demarcated Landscapes Avatar

    This is great! Congratulations to all involved!

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E


  3. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K.Sharpe

    Congradulations to all.

    1. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
      Rita K.Sharpe

      Congratulations.My spelling is not up to par this morning.

  4. JimT Avatar

    Congratulations! A sweet victory to savor.

  5. Taz Alago Avatar
    Taz Alago

    Terrific! Thanks to all involved. Now I’d like to see this applied to Oregon.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Taz Alago,

      It does apply to Oregon. It applies to the whole country.

  6. Virginia Avatar

    How dare they try to circumvent the Taylor Grazing Act and NEPA! This is a great victory and it proves the corruption of the BLM, Forest Service, USFWS and all the rest of those entities. So sorry to all of those ranchers who thought they owned the public lands on these leases!

  7. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    That would be good money spent giving wwp a donation

  8. pointswest Avatar

    I swear, the Bush Administration is the nearest thing to a NAZI regime this country has ever had. We are lucky to have come out of it with only financial collapse. Hopefully, the Tea Party and far right will remain marginalized and will not regain power and lead us into total economic collapse and/or another World War.

    I am glad to see more of the Far Right damage undone as in this decision.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      I will never understand why Bush ever even ran for president. It was almost as if there was this young man with a big family name who was urged by the powerful people around him for decades to pursue political office, then higher political office. I firmly believe that left to his own devices, he would never have aspired to the presidency.

      He just seems like a guy who finally resigned himself to the fate others had created for him. The catastrophe that was his presidency was engineered partically by him, and mostly by those around him.

  9. Chris Harbin Avatar

    This is certainly some good news1 I would like to send my appreciation out the WWP, the plaintiffs and legal staff that worked to achieve this victory. I will definitely show my appreciation in a more concrete fashion as well. Everyone still has to get involved in the NEPA process when these grazing allotments come up for review of course and that, is no piece of cake.
    I was looking at some old (well, not too old) photos today. One was of a group of cattle at a water tank IN Dinosaur National Monument. The other was of another group grazing the pumice and cinder fields of Northern Arizona in Petrified Forest National Park. What a shame. Even for the cows.

  10. Angela Avatar

    This is wonderful. It’s really a dream come true for those who have fought against public land grazing for so long with little to no progress. Thank you Western Watersheds and to those who go to school and study environmental law!

  11. jon Avatar

    Congradulations to Ralph, Jon Marvel and all those who are with western watersheds. Let’s hope for more victories down the line!


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