This is what WWP calls “low hanging fruit”
For the last several years I have been appealing grazing decision issued by the Ely District of the BLM and, over and over again, the District only considers alternatives which maintain the status quo even when they have identified problems on the allotments that are either caused by or exacerbated by livestock grazing.
The decision that was overturned and remanded back to the Ely District was for sheep grazing on 8 allotments encompassing 1.3 million acres of the Egan Field Office. In their decision the BLM only considered two alternatives, one which would have renewed the previous 10-year decision without any changes; and one which would have renewed the permit with very minor changes in seasonal use, and placed very weak utilization standards on different components of the vegetation but kept the exact same number of grazing AUMs. They didn’t consider a no grazing alternative or an alternative which would have reduced grazing levels at all.
The allotments contain important sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and bighorn sheep habitat and readers of this blog know quite well how domestic sheep impact bighorn sheep with their diseases.
Judge Andrew Pearlstein ruled that the BLM did not consider an adequate range of alternatives as required under the National Environmental Policy Act and added that they didn’t even consider an alternative which would have closed sheep grazing allotments with bighorn sheep habitat as required by their own 2008 Resource Management Plan.
The sheep that are grazed under this decision trail north through the district and the up into the Ruby Mountains where bighorn sheep suffered a fatal outbreak of pneumonia last winter.
Judge overturns BLM grazing decision.
By ADELLA HARDING – Elko Daily Free Press