|Judge: Forest Service must
consider the wolf in grazing - Wildlife
outranks livestock, says ruling
By PATRICIA R. MCCOY
Capital Press Staff Writer
BOISE - June 23, 2002 - The U.S. Forest Service must analyze
the effects of livestock grazing on wolves in the Sawtooth
National Recreation Area, a federal judge recently ruled here.
Wildlife gets primary consideration but grazing is secondary,
said the judge.
The Forest Service must consider both the 1972 Organic Act,
which created the SNRA, and the wolf environmental impact
statement/record of decision in conducting that analysis, said the
memorandum decision and court order issued by B. Lynn Winmill,
chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Idaho.
In the 1972 Organic Act, Congress directed the Forest Service
to administer the recreation area to conserve and develop scenic,
natural, historic, pastoral, wildlife and other values, Winmill
The Forest Service argued that grazing is encompassed within
the terms historic and pastoral. That would elevate grazing from a
conditional value to a primary value, in direct contravention of
the plain language of the Organic Act, he ruled.
Congress identified conserving and development of wildlife as a
primary value of the SNRA. Certain other values, including
grazing, were to be developed conditionally, only “insofar as
their utilization will not substantially impair the development of
wildlife,” Winmill said.
Some 4,400 sheep and 2,500 cattle graze 28 Forest Service
allotments within the SNRA. The Forest Service must conduct
National Environmental Protection Act analyses on each allotment
under the 1995 Rescissions Act. A schedule for meeting that
congressional mandate was submitted in 1995, he said.
The Forest Service conceded it has not completed NEPA analyses
for seven SNRA allotments by the dates specified on that schedule,
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed against the Sawtooth
National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service by Western Watersheds
Project and the Idaho Conservation League.
Spokesmen for both organizations hailed it as a major victory.
“Under the law which created the SNRA and in the forest plan
for the Sawtooth National Forest, wildlife, fisheries and
recreation must be protected and have higher priorities for
management than livestock grazing,” said Jon Marvel, WWP
“We will wait to see how the Forest Service balances any
conflicts that may happen before we consider possible injunctions
against livestock grazing,” said John McCarthy, ICL conservation
Leaders of the ranching industry were in Jackpot, Nev., this
week for their annual mid-year conference, and unavailable for