Megaloads hearing to enter third week

Folks continue to have plenty to say-

Here is the story on the coming third week of testimony, from the Spokesman-Review.

It seems to me that local folks willing to testify are mostly unhappy.  Here is a detailed story about past testimony in New West. New Idaho Megaloads Hearings Address More Than 200 Shipments. By Steve Bunk.

Despite efforts by the Idaho legislature to prevent people from suing over the plans of the lovable oil companies, two new lawsuits on the issue were recently filed.  One is by the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Missoula County Commission against the Montana State Department of Transportation. The other is by Idaho Rivers United. IRU is against the Forest Service. The Lochsa River and a corridor 1/4 mile on either side is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and most of it is public national forest land. In fact the Lochsa was one of very first rivers protected, but the Forest Services is just standing by while the road right-of-way is being heavily chopped up for the wide and long loads.

Idaho bill to protect CAFOs from family farms, residents, local officials

Idaho bill would protect farms CAFOs from nuisance suits-

There hardly worse news for a small farm, village, residential, or wildlife area than a giant confined animal feeding operation is coming in. Can it be stopped? In almost every state, but Idaho especially, this happens again and again. Usually the CAFO, flush with money and support from its crony’s in the state legislature plows over local opposition, including local elected officials and everyone’s property rights
Occasionally local people win. That is too much for Idaho’s plutocracy. Now they have a “right to farm bill,” which is really just the opposite. Notice how the Idaho Statesman got the headline wrong in the article below? . . .  just as the CAFO’s supporters hoped it would. The AP writer told what is really going on, but the Statesman wrote the headline.

Idaho bill would protect farms from nuisance suits. By Mitchell Schmidt. Associated Press

Note that this bill is being pushed in other states too, indicating it is a multi-state campaign supported by some rich interest like maybe the Koch Brothers.

Update. Editorial of the Idaho State Journal. March 14, 2011

Proponents are wrapping their arguments for passage around Idaho’s rich agricultural history. “Agriculture is a shining star in Idaho,” attorney Dan Steenson told lawmakers during a recent committee hearing on Denney’s bill. “Expansion is necessary for businesses to grow.”
It’s nice to hear these mega-operations called businesses and not farms. They are in fact industrial in scope, although they enjoy the benefits of being agricultural in nature. And they come with a price to nature, neighbors and taxpayers. Read the rest . . . New CAFO bills carry a stench.

Swiss philanthropist buys $35M in Plum Creek Timber land in western Montana

This is not the first land protection buy-up in the Rockies by the Swiss billionaire-

This purchase seems to be a very good thing for conservation of the Montana landscape, but I’d bet this post will stir up a lot of debate about billionaires buying land (or maybe just about billionaires and why there are so many of them all of a sudden).

Swiss philanthropist buys $35M in Plum Creek Timber land in western Montana.  By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

Arizona Rethinking Open Range Laws

On the “open range” if you don’t want someone else’s cattle on your property, you have to fence them out!

Arizona is rethinking the fairness of this tradition.  So are people in other states.

Arizona Rethinking Open Range Laws. By Marc Lacey. New York Times.

If you hit a black cow in the middle of the night on a public highway, you are always to blame and will have to pay for the dead cow even as you pay for your spouse, friend or child’s funeral.

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

Friends,

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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Ralph Maughan's Wildlife News

Utah anglers may have to buy access to streams

Utah’s new anti-access law effect’s on fishing could be overcome by access purchase-

We discussed this earlier in brief as part of the comments on the Salt Lake City, Chevron oil pipe spill into Red Butte Creek and the Jordan River.

Utah anglers may have to buy access to streams. By Brandon Loomis. The Salt Lake Tribune

Yellowstone bison drive planned through this week

To hell with private property rights, to hell with wildlife, we must protect cattle that aren’t even here.

Hazing bison inside Yellowstone National Park © Ken Cole

Hazing bison inside Yellowstone National Park on Madison River ©Ken Cole

The ridiculous annual event of hazing bison during their calving season is underway even though this year the bison are likely to come back out of the Park because the green-up of grass hasn’t started there due to late season snowstorms.

Each year the residents of the West Yellowstone area have to endure this fiasco on behalf of a few ranchers who whine and cry that their cattle might get brucellosis from bison when they don’t even bring them to the area a until after the buffalo have all calved. This year, due to the late green-up, it will likely be even later.

On numerous occasions I have witnessed Montana’s helicopters chasing buffalo deep into the Park even beyond the border of Wyoming in front of bewildered tourists. Last year, while hazing herds of newborn calves and their mothers off of private property where there never will be cattle again, Buffalo Field Campaign filmed a calf that had broken its leg in the malay of the hazing operation. These kinds of incidents are a common occurrence and there is no justification for it.

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