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Western Watersheds Project v. United States Bureau of Land Management

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20044
Nos. CV-13-01028-PHX-PGR, (D. Ariz., 02/26/2015) (Rosenblatt, J.)

A district court held that BLM failed to adequately explain and support its decision to allow grazing on Sonoran Desert National Monument lands north of Interstate Highway 8 in violation of NEPA. Specifically, the court ruled that BLM's land health evaluation—an essential step in the process of determining whether livestock grazing is compatible with protecting the objects of the Monument—is arbitrary and capricious. BLM failed to adequately explain some of its decisions that led to the land health evaluation and compatibility determinations. It also failed to address significant concerns raised in a peer reviewer's comments. Nevertheless, BLM may be able to readily cure the defects in its decisionmaking process if given an opportunity to do so. The court therefore determined that remand without vacatur is appropriate so that BLM can either articulate reasoned explanations and responses or adopt different decisions with reasoned explanations that support them.