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Western Watersheds Project v. U.S. Sheep Experiment Station

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20067
Nos. 1:19-cv-00065-REB, (D. Idaho, 04/16/2021) (Bush, M.J.)

A magistrate judge granted in part and denied in part environmental groups' motion for summary judgment in a challenge to USDA's decision to allow sheep used for its research service to graze in the Centennial Mountains. Environmental groups argued the decision violated NEPA by failing to analyze the direct and indirect effects of the grazing on federal land not owned by the agency, failing to take a hard look at the impacts of the grazing on vulnerable species, and misstating and exaggerating the effects of discarded alternatives. The magistrate judge found that USDA failed to take the required hard look at impacts of the grazing by not adequately addressing its direct and indirect effects on non-agency-owned land, not sufficiently examining its impacts on bighorn sheep and grizzly bears, and not objectively analyzing alternatives; but that it sufficiently examined impacts on greater sage-grouse. The judge denied summary judgment for the groups with respect to impacts on sage-grouse, but granted summary judgment in all other respects and permitted grazing to continue only in certain areas until further review is completed on remand.