Latest in Frank Ranches, et al. v. Jonathan Ratner, Western Watersheds Project

Was it trespass, or is it really punishing WWP for exposing that truth?

In the matter of Frank Ranches, et al. (more ranches) versus Johnathan Ratner, individually and in his capacity in Western Watersheds Project and Western Watersheds Project (WWP), there have been a number of motions: a WWP motion to dismiss, the plaintiff’s response in opposition to this, and now WWP’s response to that.

See our earlier story about this lawsuit. Western Watersheds Project Not Backing Down in Wyoming Lawsuit. Aug. 4, 2014.

Western Watersheds issued a news release today about their latest response.

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News release
Western Watersheds Project

Western Watersheds Project Fights Back in Wyoming Trespass Lawsuit

February 3, 2015

In the latest episode of the livestock industry’s frivolous lawsuit alleging trespass in Wyoming, Western Watersheds Project filed a reply today. The ranchers, represented by industry ally Karen Budd-Falen, utterly failed to respond to WWP’s arguments. This demonstrates that the Plaintiffs are pursuing the trespass lawsuit not because of any perceived trespass, but because they dislike WWP’s work and the light it sheds on the ecological impacts of their Wyoming operations.

WWP filed its Motion to Dismiss in December 2014, and the ranchers’ response included only vague information, conclusitory allegations, and indecipherable legal descriptions. Such allegations fall well short of the standards required by law, and indeed, reveal this litigation to be nothing other than a fishing expedition into WWP’s files.

The ranchers’ case is unfair and untrue, and plainly in reaction to the data uncovered by WWP in its water quality monitoring. It is unequivocally confirmed by the record that the ranchers were polluting public waterways; this lawsuit is about punishing WWP for exposing that truth.

This isn’t about trespass. This is about trying to shut down environmental organizations monitoring public lands. WWP will not be stopped and WWP will not be scared. People and wildlife need clean water, not E. coli muddied streams. Not in rural Wyoming, not anywhere.



  1. MAD Avatar

    Although I am not admitted to practice in the Great State of Wyoming, I will say that this motion is horribly written and full of nonsense (the Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion to dismiss). As far as the merits of the case,I’d have to read all the filings to get a clearer sense of the case.

    But just by what I’ve read, it’s fairly comical that the Plaintiff’s will continue despite knowing they are violating environmental quality standards. Unless of course, they know the courts and administrative agencies won’t really care because of who they are and who their friends might be.

  2. vickif Avatar

    This is kind of like a cheating spouse getting angry and blaming their wife/husband for looking at their phone and catching them. Pathetic really. I hope this is resolved with haste. There is no room in legality for shenanigans created to disguise or punish the law abiders. Smoke screens and scare tactics, the way of he irresponsible and greedy.

  3. jerry collins Avatar
    jerry collins

    One more case of punishing the whistle blower.

  4. Mike Bickley Avatar
    Mike Bickley

    It is surprising to me that Wyoming doesn’t have some sort of ag gag law like Idaho, I’ll bet they are working on one now.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Mike Bickley, yes they are. It is the bill in the Wyoming legislature to make the collection of data on private land into a case of criminal trespass.

      1. Mark L Avatar
        Mark L

        Wonder how that would fly with commercial satellites collecting terrestial data in Wyoming. Or witnessing a fire/flood at a house and being hesitant to call.

      2. Steve Johnson Avatar
        Steve Johnson

        But if you are on private land, it is trespassing. That is why it is called “private” land. Or do you advocate abolition of all property rights?

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    I’ve wondered for years why Karen Budd-Falen keeps getting legal work and clients at all. It cannot be for her competency and track record of successful pleads…

  6. Brett Haverstick Avatar
    Brett Haverstick

    Proud of everyone with WWP for standing tall.

  7. Kevin Jamison Avatar
    Kevin Jamison

    A bully is a bully is a bully. Filthy dung spattered cowards all.

  8. Steve Johnson Avatar
    Steve Johnson

    Give ’em hell WWP!!!


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