Thursday, June 23, 2016

Judge refuses to overturn Oregon grazing plans

A federal judge has rejected environmentalists’ arguments that grazing along Oregon’s Sprague and Sycan rivers unlawfully harms bull trout habitat where the fish doesn’t live. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke has held that grazing plans for 10 federal land allotments comply with the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws. Several ranching families, who had intervened in the case to defend the grazing plans, are relieved by the judge’s ruling, said Scott Horngren, an attorney with the Western Resources Legal Center, who represented them. “An adverse decision would have been very disruptive and harmful to their grazing plans this year,” Horngren said. If the judge had found the grazing plans were unlawfully approved, the environmental plaintiffs likely would have sought to curtail grazing at a time when the ranchers are preparing to release cattle onto public land, he said. Horngren noted that ranchers already face restrictions on grazing duration and grass stubble height, among other factors. “This isn’t uncontrolled grazing,” he said. Last year, Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and the Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint against the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the grazing plans in the Fremont-Winema National Forest...more

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