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Western Watersheds Project v. Bernhardt

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20119
Nos. 2:19-cv-0750-SI, (D. Or., 07/16/2019) (Simon, J.)

A district court granted in part a motion to preliminarily enjoin BLM from permitting a ranching company to use two grazing allotments that had been authorized by the Secretary of the Interior in response to a presidential pardon of the company's prior criminal convictions. Environmental groups argued they were likely to suffer irreparable harm before the case was resolved on the merits if grazing was not enjoined, from harm to sage-grouse habitat, from the agency's failure to comply with NEPA, and to their personal interests in the use and enjoyment of the allotments in their ungrazed state. BLM asserted the groups failed to demonstrate they would suffer irreparable harm under an alternative grazing plan it proposed at a recent hearing and thus that a preliminary injunction was not proper. The court found that the groups failed to show likely irreparable harm at the grazing level proposed under the agency's alternative plan, but that they did show likely irreparable harm at the grazing level authorized by the permit at the time it was renewed. It therefore granted in part the preliminary injunction, permitting limited grazing as proposed under the alternative plan.