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Idaho Watersheds Project v. Hahn

Citation: 29 ELR 21431
No. No. 99-35713, 187 F.3d 1035/(9th Cir., 08/20/1999)

The court reverses a district court's denial of environmental groups' motion for a preliminary injunction to limit grazing in certain allotments of the Owyhee Resource Area in Idaho. The district court held that the groups failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was unreasonably delaying its compliance with the fundamentals of rangeland health regulations. The court first holds that the BLM made the triggering determination regarding grazing management practices in the allotments at issue in October 1997, but that the BLM has yet to issue its final decision modifying the relevant grazing permit and implementing changes in grazing management practices even though the next grazing year started in the spring of 1998. The court next holds that the fundamentals of rangeland health regulations require the BLM not merely to begin the procedures set forth therein, but rather to complete them and issue its final decision by the start of the next grazing year. Accordingly, the court then holds that the district court erred in concluding that the groups failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits, and remands the case for the district court to consider the possibility of irreparable injury and whether the balance of the hardships tips in favor of the groups.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Laurence J. Lucas
Land and Water Fund of the Rockies
408 W. Idaho St., Boise ID 83702
(208) 342-7024

Counsel for Defendants
Nicholas J. Woychick, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
First Interstate Center
877 W. Main St., Ste. 201, Boise ID 83702
(208) 334-9335

Before Browning, Schroeder, and Pregerson, JJ.