Fremont-Winema wins sucker lawsuit

In Oregon Wild v. Cummins, the Oregon district court upheld the Fremont-Winema National Forest’s compliance with the requirement of INFISH to “modify grazing practices … that retard or prevent the attainment of [Riparian Management Objectives (“RMOs”)] or are likely to adversely affect inland fish.”   The court quoted a prior case for INFISH requirements: “INFISH contemplates that its objectives are `targets’ that will not be met instantaneously” and “[t]he attainment of RMOs is to be assessed on a watershed level.”  While plaintiffs identified streams that did not meet RMOs, the Forest had monitoring data that showed overall improvement in stream conditions. While past grazing practices had contributed to degraded conditions, the court held that now, “there is nothing to indicate that grazing is contributing to any failure to attain INFISH RMOs at a watershed level.”

The court dismissed Endangered Species Act claims regarding the impacts of grazing on two listed sucker species because the Forest was obligated to reinitiate consultation on its grazing permits on a 10-year schedule, which was now ongoing and must be completed prior to further grazing. It also dismissed a challenge to an EA used to approve livestock grazing because plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies by appealing the decision (which would have stayed any further grazing until the appeal was resolved).   Finally, there was no significant new information that would require supplementing the EA for grazing allotments.

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